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Documentary film reignites Florida alimony debate

Last year, Gov. Rick Scott's veto ended the legislative effort made by supporters of alimony reform in Florida. A new documentary film is putting the spotlight back on the issue, as reform supporters prepare for a new legislative push.

The film, "Divorce Corp.," premiered in Tallahassee last week. The screening is part of a coordinated effort by reform backers to raise awareness of the issue in advance of this year's legislative session. 

Last year's proposed changes would have led to a radical shift in Florida alimony law. Permanent alimony would have been ended, and payments would have been capped depending on variables such as earned income and length of marriage. The changes would have also granted judges greater latitude with regard to modifications of existing alimony orders.

Though Scott ultimately vetoed the bill due in part to constitutional concerns, at least one legislator is already preparing a modified version of last year's bill for consideration this year. While the bill is expected to be somewhat toned down, any reform may lead to significant changes.

Spouses who were eligible to collect alimony indefinitely may find their alimony limited in term by state law. Alimony awards may also be lower in some cases, if salary considerations are factored into the equation. Perhaps most importantly, existing alimony cases could be modified retroactively.

Anyone in a contentious spousal support situation may wish to work with an attorney who has experience in this area of law. Alimony reform, if passed, would have real-world consequences that require careful planning.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Alimony reform supporters rally around documentary film," Kathleen McGrory, Jan. 21, 2014

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