Movie highlights need for Florida alimony reform

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It is no secret to Orlando residents that the current state alimony laws can have a seriously negative impact on those who are ordered to pay. When alimony reform was being bandied about last year, several people shared their stories of financial hardship as a result of large alimony payments. However, although the Florida legislature passed reforms, Governor Rick Scott vetoed the bill.

However, those who are pro-reform have not given up the fight. One of the latest methods being used to educate the public on the issues of alimony reform is the documentary, “Divorce Corp.” It highlights the problems with the current policies and explains why reform is necessary.

However, although the process might need an overhaul, the principle of alimony is still valid. Payments to spouses who gave up jobs or careers in order to take care of their families deserve to be compensated for the time they put into their families. Alimony ensures that a spouse will not live in poverty after a divorce. But the problem with the current laws is that the spouse who is paying alimony could find themselves in financial straits.

New attempts at legislation will avoid the pitfalls of the 2013 proposed legislation. For example, new legislation will not seek to eliminate permanent alimony, but will focus on smaller fixes such as alerting both spouses that their standard of living will decrease after a divorce. Pro-reformists will also seek “retirement” of alimony payments when the payee retires.

No one argues that alimony is a needed part of the divorce process. However, opponents of the current system want the process to be less financially prohibitive for the payee. Anyone who feels they are paying unfairly can seek the advice of an experienced legal professional who can evaluate their situation and offer solutions that can make paying alimony less of a financial burden.

Source: Bradenton.com, “Florida alimony reform supporters rally around documentary film” Kathleen McGrory, Jan. 22, 2014

Opponents of Florida alimony reform recount legislative history

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The debate over permanent alimony in Florida continues, even though months have gone by since the governor vetoed a bill that would have eliminated this type of spousal support. Those who sought reform were obviously upset by the governor’s decision, and some would argue that these supporters were actually making a selfish attempt at eliminating their monthly payments. Opponents of the reform were relieved and made sure to claim that the marketing ploys implemented for the bill’s campaign were disingenuous. According to opponents, the end of permanent alimony would be the end of a level playing field, even though reformers often claimed that eliminating lifetime alimony would actually make things even.

In an opinion piece, an opponent of alimony reform recounted Florida’s recent history with spousal support. After 2006, appellate decisions began restricting awards of alimony that allotted for more than basic needs in marriages that lasted less than 22 years. Lifetime alimony, also known as lifestyle alimony, could be awarded in marriages that lasted longer than 22 years. In 2010, durational alimony was added to the arsenal of family law judges, giving them the ability to award spousal support for a certain amount of time. This is different than bridge-to-gap alimony, which helps a lower-income spouse in the transition from married to single life. Each of these considers the standard of living that spouses kept during the marriage.

There is also rehabilitative alimony, a type of support that helps a spouse acquire new skills to become more attractive to employers, facilitating a return to economic independence. Finally, in 2011, opponents of reform noted that the Florida state legislature began requiring courts to show that no other form of alimony would work just as well before awarding permanent lifetime support. This means that it is now the last resort for courts to award. Modifying the law, in the opinion of the opponents, would be a mistake that would cause financial harm to individuals who opted for spousal support instead of assets during their divorces since no reallocation would take place and the law would be retroactive.

Source: Tampa Tribune, “Alimony measure would kill 30 years of progress” Jerry Reiss, Sep. 06, 2013

Cone you dig it? Man must pay added alimony for wife’s ice cream

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When a couple goes through the divorce process, the matter of alimony can often be the most contentious issue. Many divorced couples in Orlando have had to deal with spousal support negotiations, which are complicated discussions that require diligent work from both parties and their attorneys.

If there is no prenuptial agreement involved, the two spouses need to come to an agreement on how much the monthly spousal support payments will be (a prenup will usually outline alimony terms); and there must be justification for the amount being quoted, usually substantiated by the length of the marriage and the standard of living that was established as a result. If the spouses cannot come to terms, then a judge will have the ultimate say.

Alimony is undoubtedly a serious issue in divorce. But a recent spousal support story caught our eye — and our sweet tooth — for a quirky and entertaining clause in a divorce settlement agreed to by an Indian couple.

The divorced husband and wife took their divorce claims to a court in Mumbai, India, where a judge was presiding over the alimony discussions. The man was separating from his wife, in part, because of her love for ice cream. He claimed she drained his savings buying ice cream.

So when it came time to make a ruling on the divorcing couple’s alimony disagreement, the judge decided on a monthly payment of roughly $1,300. Just one thing: an extra $2.50 per month had to be paid by the man to his ex-wife so that she could get some ice cream.

Source: The Inquisitr, “Man Must Pay For Ex-Wife’s Ice Cream In Best Divorce Settlement Ever,” Dusten Carlson, Aug. 6, 2013