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Proposed changes to alimony laws in legislature

Proposed changes to alimony laws that would stop payments after a spouse dies are working their way through the legislature toward the governor's desk. One member says the goal is for fairness in the laws.

Florida has several different types of alimony laws. Bridge the gap alimony acts as transitional support. Rehabilitative serves a similar purpose. Durational can last between two years until the length of the marriage. Permanent has no time limit.

House Bill 231 and Senate Bill 718 address several significant areas of alimony. The bill would remove permanent alimony, particularly in cases with short marriages. In some cases, a person even has needed alimony insurance so that the payments continue after their death.

The bill would stop alimony when a person retires so that the spouse would not be trapped into ongoing spousal support. It would also calculate an average of spousal earnings in order to determine the alimony amount. The courts would have the right to change spousal support.

Finally, the bill would eliminate the consideration of remarriage and the new spouse's earnings as a factor when calculating alimony. In the past, when a former spouse who paid alimony remarried, the courts sometimes ordered increased spousal support depending on the new partner's income.

Changes to Florida spousal support laws can confuse those who are filing for divorce. A family attorney who has thoroughly reviewed the laws related to alimony reform might be able to help clients understand the updated legislation so that they can receive a fair settlement.

Source: Crestview Bulletin, "Alimony reform bills propose relief from lifelong payments," Brian Hughes, Feb. 25, 2013

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