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Alimony reform movement is not going away soon in Florida

In May, we discussed Florida Gov. Rick Scott's veto of a bill that would have ended permanent alimony. It has now been reported that another version of the controversial legislation is expected to resurface next year.

Permanent alimony is a court order requiring a person to pay his or her ex-spouse spousal support for the rest of his or her life, or until the person receiving the payments remarries. Critics of permanent alimony say that the concept is outdated and often abused. Those who would like to see permanent alimony stick around argue that many divorcees have vested contractual interests in their ex-spouse's income.

The practice of permanent alimony is, in fact, antiquated. It is rooted in traditional gender roles, with men working and women staying at home. When such marriages end, women may have limited means to support themselves and their families.

In today's world, critics of permanent alimony say, families no longer operate like they used to. So, permanent alimony is unnecessary.

Of course, there are still many families wherein one spouse--be it the man or woman--does not work but instead runs the household. In the event of divorce, the person who did not work would likely need some type of financial support.

Scott vetoed the bill this year at the last minute, and he said that the reason for the veto was because it would have effected alimony agreements that are already in place. Additionally, it would have required the majority of divorced parents to share custody of their children.

A revised version of the bill may or may not include those provisions.

As the alimony reform movement continues moving forward, it is unlikely that the heated opinions surrounding this issue will cool down. In general, however, people on both sides of this issue tend to have the same concern: fairness.

Many people who champion alimony reform say that permanent alimony is sometimes used as a punishment, citing cases in which judges granted permanent alimony to high-earning women simply because their husbands wronged them. Those in favor of existing alimony laws are worried about women being thrown into dire financial straits upon divorce as a result of the personal sacrifices they made during their marriages.

In any event, it is imperative for those who are going through a divorce to work with their family law attorneys in order to achieve fair and reasonable alimony arrangements.

Source: WLRN.org, "Florida's Vetoed Alimony Bill Likely To Return In 2014," Gina Jordan, Aug. 7, 2013