Florida family law reformers continue to call for change in 2014

Few people in Broward County have missed out on the debate over alimony that has swept over Florida in the last year. Indeed, the proposed changes to spousal support and other aspects of Florida divorce law sparked strong emotions for many people, from payers to recipients. Even though Governor Rick Scott vetoed the proposed changes, more reform attempts may lie ahead, which makes family law reform an issue worth watching for Floridians who are divorced or preparing for the process.

New revisions and changes proposed

According to the Herald-Tribune, the legal changes proposed last year would have abolished permanent alimony and allowed people to contest retroactive orders, among other changes. One of the primary reasons for the bill being vetoed was concern for longtime alimony recipients who had reason to expect ongoing payments.

The reformers who worked on last year's legislation are now revising and drafting new legislation to be introduced in 2014, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The legislation will not allow retroactive spousal support orders to be revisited, and it would make the following changes to divorce law:

· Allowing reduced support payments when the person paying retires.

· Automatically reducing payments if the person paying has a change in job and loses income.

· Calculating initial alimony orders differently.

· Altering the way that child custody is determined.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, changes to the awarding of child custody are still being considered. The legislation vetoed last year would have encouraged a default award of split custody, a change that would in turn affect child support payments and potentially even spousal support orders. After drawing criticism last year, the child support changes are being reconsidered.

The debate over alimony and divorce law is far from over, but in the meantime, it is worthwhile for married and divorced couples in Florida to possess a basic understanding of the current law.

Alimony as it is today

Currently, alimony is awarded in Florida based on the financial standing of each spouse and the nature of the relationship. Each person's level of education, employment and health is taken into account, and each person's role in the marriage - for instance, raising the children or supporting the other spouse in pursuing higher education - is as well. There is no simple formula for calculating how much alimony is awarded or how long financial support is given.

The proposed legislative changes would make some modifications to alimony automatic and others easier to seek. Today, alimony payers have the option of requesting modification due to changes in their financial circumstances, as do recipients. If a judge deems the changes necessary, they can be ordered with a post-judgment modification.

The proposed changes to divorce law underscore the fact that this area of law is complex and that qualified help is essential for anyone who is going through a divorce. If you are preparing for a divorce or if you have already filed for one in Florida, make sure to speak with an attorney who can advise you on your options and the relevant state law.