SOURCE: Florida Alimony Reform

Florida Alimony Reform

November 09, 2011 10:44 ET

Florida Alimony Reform Group Applauds Bills to Update Archaic Alimony Laws in the Sunshine State

TAVARES, FL--(Marketwire - Nov 9, 2011) - Two Florida legislators spearheading a drive to update Florida's antiquated alimony laws have earned accolades from Florida Alimony Reform (FAR). The advocacy group is leading the fight to bring the state's alimony laws into the 21st century. The laws, considered among the harshest and most out-of-date in the country, make routine awards of permanent alimony that do not end even after payers retire. The group points to examples of abuses, such as healthy, working women who receive permanent alimony in their 30s and 40s; payers who must continue payments to ex-spouses who cohabit for years; retired men paying upwards of 50 percent of their income in alimony; and alimony payers forced to live on less money than recipients.

Identical bills introduced in the last ten days by Rep. Ritch Workman (R-30-Brevard) and Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-36-Miami Dade) would provide specific rules for judges to determine the amount and duration of alimony; give alimony payers the right to meaningful retirement; revise cohabitation standards; prohibit the court's use of a girlfriend's or second wife's income in determining alimony modifications; and give current payers the right to modify their alimony awards based on the new law.

"Florida's permanent alimony laws are relics from another century," said Rep. Workman, sponsor of HB 549. "I support helping the lower-earning spouse during a transition period after a marriage ends, but there are too many injustices in the current system. Too often, lifetime alimony brings payers to bankruptcy, insolvency, and foreclosure. Lifetime alimony sends the wrong message to those getting divorced in our state."

The current guidelines make alimony awards unpredictable, add greatly to the cost of a divorce, and force long-divorced couples to return repeatedly to divorce court when their circumstances change to renegotiate alimony.

"We are thrilled to see this commitment from legislators," said Alan Frisher, co-director of Florida Alimony Reform. "FAR believes that alimony guidelines should resemble child support guidelines and provide set amounts and specific timeframes, so that the lower-earning spouse has sufficient time to get back into the labor market, get their skills up to par, or to downsize, the way payers must, because their alimony payments are so high. The extreme burdens of permanent alimony are destroying many decent men and women across the state, especially in our extended recession."

Mr. Frisher points to Massachusetts, which recently overhauled its own out-of-date alimony laws. The advocacy group, Massachusetts Alimony Reform, worked closely with family lawyers in the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, and the Women's Bar Association, to craft an entirely new law that reflects the social and economic reality of the times. "Massachusetts and Florida were competing for the most draconian alimony laws in the country," Mr. Frisher notes. "Now that the leaders in Massachusetts have come around, Florida is winning this unfortunate contest. We are heartened by the support of Representative Workman and Senator Diaz de la Portilla. I expect a groundswell of support from families, and even from attorneys who understand how out-of-date and unfair current law is."

Florida Alimony Reform is a 501 (c) 4 corporation made up of citizens across Florida, affected by the state's unfair alimony laws. Please visit the website to learn more about current alimony, to read the proposed legislation, to read "The Shame of Florida: Horror Stories from the Sunshine State," a collection of 33 stories of alimony payers in the state, and to find out how you can help bring Florida's alimony laws into the 21st century.

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