Florida alimony law one step closer to being reformed

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SARASOTA - The latest attempt by Florida lawmakers to set new guidelines for alimony payments has cleared the state Senate and the House.  And if signed into law by the governor, it would change the game for divorced couples.

"I've been married for 28 years,"  said Myke Greenspan.

But Greenspan's marriage is an anomaly.  According to the Center for Disease Control's National Survey of Family Growth, there is a 1 in 15 chance that a marriage will survive more than 10 years.  That figure comes as no surprise for many in the state because Florida's divorce rate hovers around the 50% mark.

These numbers may be the driving force behind House Bill 231 and Senate Bill 718, now known to many as the alimony reform laws.

"It's going to be tremendously more difficult to get alimony of any substantial duration or amount," said Family Law Attorney Leslie Loftus of Kirk Pinkerton P.A.

The new laws remove the lifestyle factor many spouses claim to receive alimony.  As well as reduce the 50% gross income cap that could be paid out.

"The statutes provides that you can get certain percentages based on the number of years you were married and the top percentage that anyone can get would be 38%," said Loftus.

In addition to reducing the amount received from 50 to 38%, the laws also reclassified marriage lengths.  So a short term marriage would now be 11 years or less and 20 years or more would be considered long term.  And Loftus says if your marriage is not considered long term, getting that 38% is far fetched.

"Not only will these women not be able to get their alimony or very much or it they wont be able to get child support because if you have equal time sharing and now that presumed as part of this you don't get child support either," said Loftus.

And the new laws go one step further.

"The statutes specifically provides that by its enactment people that are already paying alimony can go in and have them changed," added Loftus. 

But the proposed laws are being met with mixed feelings

"Most of the legislators don't have any knowledge or background in this, so I don't know what motivates them. But if you have any knowledge in this at all you would know that one size doesn't fit all," said Sarasota resident and former attorney Frank Brenner.

"If the woman is the care taker of children and she's giving up her career and her mate is earning a living she has giving up all of her career opportunity so in that case she should get alimony," said Greenspan.

The bills are expected to be signed into law by on Gov. Scott in the coming weeks.