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Florida Alimony Reform Appears Dead for 2017

Despite consensus between the Florida Bar’s Family Law Section and alimony reform advocates, it’s unlikely that Florida’s alimony laws will be overhauled this year. The Florida legislature twice sent reform legislation to Governor Rick Scott, who vetoed both efforts in 2014 and 2016. This time around it’s the legislature which appears unmotivated. Rene Garcia, Chairman of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, was recently quoted as saying, “We have more pressing issues that we’re dealing with as it relates to the safety and welfare of children than to tie up the committee with the alimony bill at this time.”  He went on to say that he wouldn’t schedule Senator Kathleen Passidomo’s alimony reform bill for a hearing.   

Alimony reformers have been trying to eliminate permanent alimony and restore what they feel is fairness to the system. They believe that the current laws too often result in the payor spouse, traditionally the husband, living in the poor house so that the recipient spouse can maintain the standard of living which she had become accustomed to during the marriage.  Having practiced marital and family law for 33 years, I’ve seen these unfair results from time to time.  While alimony reform advocates tend to be men, I’ve been representing more and more women who are the primary breadwinners in the family. It is not uncommon now to see the ex-wife paying alimony in today’s society.
As for alimony reform this year, I personally think it’s still too early to rule it out. As Mark Twain (or Gideon J. Tucker) once famously said, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
Paul E. Rice, Jr. – Board Certified Divorce Attorney