Two bills passed by the Florida House died in the Senate as the legislative session ended on March 9th. House Bill 549 would have put an end to permanent alimony in the State of Florida. House Bill 1209 was designed to ban Florida courts from considering foreign or religious law in legal decisions. As the session ended, the Florida Senate chose not to call either bill to the floor for a vote. Proponents of both measures have vowed to reintroduce the proposed laws in the future.
A spokesperson for the Florida Alimony Reform group, Alan Frisher, expressed disappointment in the Senate’s failure to pass alimony reform during the recent legislative session. According to Frisher, current alimony laws promote extended periods of animosity between ex-spouses. He believes the state should instead focus on the length of a couple’s marriage as well as transitional alimony which would purportedly encourage both spouses to become self-sufficient. Frisher stated the organization will continue to fight to change the state’s allegedly antiquated alimony laws. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association strongly opposed House Bill 549 and the organization’s head, David Manz, referred to the Florida Alimony Reform group as a vocal minority.
The Florida Senate also declined to vote on House Bill 1209, “Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases.” Although the measure did not single out Islamic law, it was often referred to by critics as the the “anti-Sharia” bill. If re-elected, Senate sponsor Alan Hays of Umatilla plans on reintroducing the measure in the next legislative session. Opponents of the failed measure have stated such a law is unnecessary and expressed concern over the intent of the bill as well as its effect on family law matters such as divorce and child custody. According to Hays, the measure was simply designed to ensure United States law is the only law considered by Florida courts.
In Florida, a court may award alimony where there is a need on the part of the alimony receiver and an ability to pay on the part of the alimony payor. A needs assessment will examine the distribution of marital assets and the couple’s standard of living prior to the divorce. If the potential alimony receiver has the ability to maintain the same standard of living after all assets are distributed, a Florida court generally will not award alimony.
Each year, many Americans find themselves in the midst of divorce proceedings. Although the range of emotions associated with the end of a marriage can feel overwhelming, the financial damage can also be devastating. If you are faced with the dissolution of your marriage, contact a qualified divorce attorney to help you protect your interests. An experienced divorce lawyer will discuss your options with you and help you file your case.
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