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Alimony reform on the horizon?

Tampa residents considering marriage or divorce should make themselves aware of the current state of alimony laws in Florida, and the potential for change. Florida is one of a few states in the U.S. that still awards permanent alimony. Anybody thinking about marrying, divorcing or re-marrying should understand the potential consequences that a permanent alimony award could have on the payer, the recipient and even a new spouse.

Alimony is a form of financial support awarded to the spouse with lesser earning potential after a divorce. Its original purpose was to alleviate the potentially harsh economic impact of a divorce on a spouse who had perhaps forgone educational opportunities in order to raise a family or provide non-financial support the primary earner spouse. Thus, monthly payments made to the recipient were intended to help maintain the standard of living to which the recipient had enjoyed during the marriage and allow the recipient to obtain education and training in order to become financially independent. In some cases, alimony awards are temporary or rehabilitative, while in other instances they can be permanent.

However, if the Florida Alimony Reform Group has its way, permanent alimony will soon be a thing of the past. The group, which boasts over 2,000 members, has been advocating for change in alimony laws since 2010. The group believes that while permanent alimony may be appropriate under certain circumstances, like when a spouse is disabled and unable to work, generally the reasons permanent alimony was created are dated and out of touch with reality. For example, while a high percentage of women were unable to pursue higher education decades ago, today many women who choose to raise families are also well-educated and have high earning potential. The group believes that a permanent alimony award to a college educated spouse is a windfall to the recipient and an overly harsh penalty on the payer.

While a change in the law is certainly possible in the near future, anyone considering getting married or divorced in Florida should understand the potential consequences of doing so, as well as the laws concerning alimony and child support. Payments can be permanent and may increase as the payer's income rises. While no newly wed couple anticipates a divorce, effective planning can help prevent the sometimes harsh consequences of ending a marriage.

Source: US News Money, "Taking the 'Permanent' Out of Permanent Alimony," Geoff Williams, Jan. 23, 2013

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Busciglio & Sheridan Law Group
3302 N. Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33603

Phone: 813-302-1265
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