Osenton Law Divorce Lawyer Says Next Year’s Alimony Reform Bill May Become Law

Law Firm Newswire



Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 30, 2013 – Next year’s Florida legislative session will probably see another attempt to reform alimony.

After a nearly-successful effort to enact alimony reform this year, advocacy groups and lawmakers are already gearing up for next year’s legislative session. And as Brandon family law attorney Kristi McCart explains, there is good reason to believe they may be successful next time.

“This year’s attempt to reform alimony was not the first in Florida,” McCart said. “It probably will not be the last. That effort came closer to succeeding than any previous bill. Governor Scott seemed to be on board with much of the bill, and was specific in his objections. If the legislature in 2014 can come up with a bill that addresses those objections, they may very well get his signature.”

In the 2013 legislative session, the Florida Legislature passed an alimony reform bill that would have limited the duration of alimony to half the length of the marriage in most cases, doing away with permanent alimony. It also would give judges more leeway to alter existing alimony judgments. That provision proved to be the reason for the bill’s failure; Gov. Scott said altering alimony payments already in place might be unfair to the recipients. But at the same time, Scott praised the efforts of the bill’s sponsors and said much of the bill was productive.

Now, supporters of reform are preparing early for their next attempt. Advocacy group Family Law Reform held a fundraiser and summit in Orlando on August 17. The group said they wanted to include the following provisions in the next draft legislation: removal of permanent alimony; the right for the payer to retire at the standard age; a ban on using a second spouse’s income to modify an alimony judgment upward; and a formal definition of what constitutes a change of life circumstances substantial enough to justify modifying a judgment downward. The last provision is key to allaying Gov. Scott’s concerns about unfair modifications that put undue burden on payees. Family Law Reform leaders say they will have regular meetings with Scott’s staff in order to draft a bill with a good chance of success.