Changes may be coming soon to Florida alimony law and the effects may retroactively extend to cases settled years ago. If a bill recently vetoed by Florida Governor Rick Scott is reintroduced for the 2014 legislative session, it will spark another long fight over how Florida’s “permanent alimony” system is enacted. Proponents of the bill include the “Florida Women for Alimony Reform” and “Family Law Reform”. They are supported by elected officials in the Florida House of Representatives like Representative Ritch Workman (Republican -Melbourne) who claim current laws have lead to situations “where alimony was used as a weapon by the judge to punish the person that they thought was wrong in the divorce,” an improper practice, considering Florida is a “no fault state”. A “no-fault” divorce means that specific grounds are not needed for divorce proceedings to be initiated, only that a marriage is “irretrievably broken” or there is a “mental incapacity” on the part of one of the parties in a marriage. These supporters of the bill believe current law in Florida allows for too much abuse and misinterpretation on the part of the courts.
Although the bill passed the Florida House and Senate, Governor Rick Scott vetoed the bill, stating as his reason that the bill would retroactively affect past court decisions that granted alimony. Others have speculated that there is more to the veto, as a plan to pass a retooled version of the legislation that eliminated the bill’s effect on prior court decisions was not met with any response and text messages reported to have been sent between the State Senate President’s chief of staff and State Senator Tom Lee (Republican -Brandon) guess that the decision “may be larger than just the veto message”.
There are those who believe that the Governor issued the veto in an attempt to distance himself from what some call an “anti-women” reform plan. Despite the anti-woman label, there are women’s groups on both sides of the argument. The “Florida Women for Alimony Reform” claim the bill will be beneficial to the growing number of working women in Florida, while a group known as the “Frist Wives First” say they are trying to protect the many “lifelong caregivers” who rely on alimony checks to live, as they cannot find work after having been out of the workforce for so long.
There are many sides to the debate, and while we won’t know the outcome until at least the 2014 legislative session, the possibility of retroactive reform to Florida’s divorce laws is real and it could have a major effect on any current divorce proceedings. If you or someone you know is currently in the midst of a divorce, be sure to educate yourself fully; contact the Law Firm of Sandy T. Fox , we’ll ensure you receive all the facts and offer the best counsel.
The South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are dedicated to professional, knowledgeable, passionate advocacy for those in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami-Dade area achieve their Family Law goals. Aside from navigating negotiation and litigation, a firm that is aware of statutory and legislative obstacles or opportunities can best guide you manage your domestic situation. Whether you are experiencing or expecting a divorce or would like to review your current spousal support order, do not hesitate to contact us today. Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
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