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What is the state of permanent alimony legislation in Florida?

When HB 943 was filed back in February, some wondered if it would finally be the push Florida needed to reform our state's alimony laws and do away with permanent spousal maintenance. The problem with this legal obligation, some argued, was that it didn't give alimony receivers enough of an incentive to return to work, thereby financially crippling payers for the rest of their lives. It was a plight some hoped state legislatures would take to heart and correct.

But this wasn't the first time the Florida legislature has seen a push for alimony reform. As some of our more frequent readers may remember from a post we wrote in March, similar legislation was presented last year with the hopes of sparking change. That measure died though when Gov. Rick Scott vetoed it. The introduction of HB 943 was supposed to renew the fight for change -- a fight many supporters thought was going to end in success.

Unfortunately, the push for alimony reform failed once more, as some of our Brandon readers may have already heard, when HB 943 died in Judiciary at the start of this month. Despite optimism from supporters that the time was right and that the measure would finally pass, the elimination of permanent alimony will not become a reality for many Floridians.

So what does this mean for our readers? Because the measure did not pass, our state's permanent alimony laws are still in effect, meaning those who have been ordered to pay permanent alimony must continue to do so until the court rules otherwise.

As one Florida woman's case shows, permanent alimony can be incredibly problematic financially because it forces a continued support system that may be disproportionate to the needs of the payer. Because this can go on for the lifetime of the payer, it can block plans to save for retirement or prevent them from retiring on time as well.

Source: The Globe News Wire, "Bill Aimed at Eliminating Permanent Alimony in Florida is One Step Away From the Governor's Desk," April 27, 2015

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