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Proposed Alimony Changes Could Modify Monetary Awards Substantially

In early April, the Florida House of Representatives’ Civil Justice Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill that would modify alimony again, even though many changes were made last year.

A companion bill is at the Florida Senate but has not been voted on yet. Should it pass, the bill would require judges to determine that a spouse who must pay alimony will not end up with significantly less net income than the recipient.

Currently, judges have discretion to determine if one party is underemployed for the purpose of avoiding or limiting alimony, which means that occasionally, it appears that the paying spouse ends up with less net income, although that may not be the actual case. The bill would also limit permanent alimony, and promote a slimmer timeframe for it. If the bill does get signed into law, proponents are hoping that it goes into effect by mid summertime.

Currently, the Florida Statutes Section 61.08 allow for the following types of alimony: permanent, durational, bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative. A recent article in The Tampa Tribune highlights the new alimony bills. Lakeland’s House of Representative Kelli Stargel feels that permanent alimony that only stops at death or remarriage of the recipient is causing more harm than good. She is pushing the bill so that judges will first have to see what other types of alimony might be more relevant than permanent alimony.

“There have been situations of men who I knew who were paying so much in alimony that it was keeping them from being able to live their lives,” said Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. “Some said they would be better off just to quit their job. We want to do things equitably and fairly.”

For now, here are the types of alimony that a Tampa family law attorney and Tampa divorce attorney can assist with:

Permanent Alimony
• Awarded for long-term marriages more than 17 years in duration
• Can be modified at a future date
• Can be ordered to be paid monthly or as a lump sum
• Payment only ends at death, remarriage of the recipient spouse, or being involved in a supportive relationship with another person

Durational Alimony
• Awarded for short to moderate term marriages less than 17 years
• For a set period of time to provide financial help
• Can be modified at a future date
• Should death or remarriage of the recipient spouse occur before the short-term alimony is up, the alimony will stop

Bridge the Gap Alimony
• Awarded to help recipient spouse transition from married to single life
• Limited to two years
• Unable to be modified
• Recipient spouse must show legitimate, short-term need
• Should death or remarriage of the recipient spouse occur before the short-term alimony is up, the alimony will stop

Rehabilitative Alimony
• Awarded to help recipient spouse redevelop skills, job training, or education
• Can be modified in only special circumstances
• Recipient spouse must show specific and defined plan with all details of the training needed
• Monies are based off of cost of training, education, etc.
• Should death or remarriage of the recipient spouse occur before the short-term alimony is up, the alimony will stop

Alimony, which is referred to as spousal support, remains a contentious subject. Divorcing couples and legal professionals are keeping a close watch on the Florida legislature to see what comes of the alimony bills.

In Tampa and Zephyrhills, family law attorney Marcie Baker is keenly aware of the ups and downs of divorce law. Divorce proceedings are a stressful, emotional experience, so an experienced attorney can ensure that every facet – from alimony, child support and parenting plans, and the division of assets – is negotiated with a clear plan for success in the future. At Alston & Baker, P.A. she takes a problem-solving approach to help clients resolve their divorce and family law matters.

Marcie Baker is with Alston & Baker, P.A. To contact a Zephyrhills personal injury lawyer, Zephyrhills divorce lawyer, or Zephyrhills social security lawyer, call 1.888.500.5245 or visit http://www.alstonbakerlaw.com.

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