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Proposed changes to Florida alimony draw emotional testimony

A bill before Florida lawmakers that would eliminate permanent alimony is drawing strong debate and emotional testimony. Supporters of the bill argue that it will help bring some consistency to determinations of alimony by judges, which now can vary significantly.

However, groups like the National Organization for Women counter that if such legislation is allowed to pass, "[i]t will certainly throw thousands of women and their children into poverty." Women's groups like NOW contend that the law would hurt women who gave up their careers in order to raise their children and would have a difficult time trying to re-enter the workforce after many years in order to support themselves after a divorce.

The proposed legislation designates that alimony would be based primarily on the length of the marriage, but also in part on the spouses' incomes. It would "set a framework for judges," as one Florida attorney describes it. Not only would permanent alimony be eliminated under the law, if it passes, but durational, rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap support would be as well.

Opponents argue that if the legislation passes, the women most likely to be impacted are those in their 50s and older who haven't worked in many years. Some of these Florida women have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle that would suddenly be ripped out from under them.

Everyone's situation is unique, of course. However, if you are going through a divorce, your Florida family law attorney can work to protect your interests and your rights under the law as it stands at the time of your divorce.

Source: Palm Beach Post, "Women’s groups fight Florida bill to overhaul alimony law," John Kennedy, Feb. 16, 2016

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