Florida Alimony Reform’s efforts to change the state’s draconian alimony laws took a big leap forward in the Florida Legislature when the House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 10-2 in favor of HB 231. GlobeNewswire reports.
Sponsored by Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, HB 231 revises the many factors to be considered when awarding alimony, including how much and for how long.
Rep. Workman told fellow lawmakers that the state’s alimony laws are “archaic” and that Florida Alimony Reform’s (FAR’s) goal is to provide better guidelines for the courts to follow.
Also testifying before the committee on February 13th was Alan Frisher, FAR’s co-director and spokesman, who told lawmakers: “Current law provides little or no guidance to judges and ultimately results in tremendous financial burdens due to litigation warfare. This causes emotional destruction to spouses and their children. This bill goes a long way toward fixing that. Our bill has three themes, fairness, predictability and preserving judicial discretion.”
Several permanent alimony payers also testified, including Tarie MacMillan, 62, who stated she was married for 13 years and has been paying alimony for just as long to a man who hasn’t worked since 1996 and continues to live in the home they once shared.
“I hear statements from the Florida Family Law (Section) that I am allowed to retire and that I can return to court to ask for a 2-year modification. This may be written somewhere but it is not playing out in the real world. I have been unable to modify by the weight of this judgment, and I have not been allowed to retire,” she testified.
MacMillan said she endured 11 years of court battles and a two-year attempt to modify the terms of her alimony, spending $90,000 in legal fees, “And nothing has changed,” she added.
HB 231 next goes to the House Judiciary Committee. Its companion bill is SB 718, filed by Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. Both bills eliminate permanent alimony and, among other things, require the court to make written findings justifying any extension of alimony outside of the prescribed guidelines. The former spouse seeking alimony must prove they have a need and the obligor must have the ability to pay, under the proposed legislation.
Since being filed, HB 231 has garnered broad support from several other lawmakers including Rep. Dave Hood of Daytona Beach, Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, and Rep. Jake Raburn of Hillsborough County, who have signed on as bill co-sponsors.
If you have questions about the alimony reform bill, how it may affect you, or if you think you have a case regarding alimony please contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm today to schedule a consultation. Managing Attorney Jeffrey Feulner is a knowledgeable expert in Florida Alimony Reform and is ready to assist you in family law matters.