Zephyrhills Family Law Attorney Sees Problems in Alimony Reform
Family law attorneys across Florida are keeping a close eye on Tallahassee this season as two alimony reform bills work their way through the state legislature.
If passed, either new state law would dramatically change the way alimony is determined in the Sunshine State and likely would end the practice of awarding lifetime alimony.
Reform advocates are pushing for many factors to be considered as alimony is determined including the length of the marriage, the financial stability of each partner and the consequences of cohabitation.
Opponents of the proposed rule changes worry strict rules could tie a judge’s hands.
“Ultimately, it would be nice to have some framework so we can tell clients what to expect in the process, but I think it would be bad to have set-in-stone rules that prevent a judge from seeing each unique situation for what it is,” said Zephyrhills divorce lawyer Marcie Baker.
One of the criticisms of the alimony reform movement is that it would not consider time spent raising children ¨C and therefore, out of the workplace ¨C as part of a judgment.
“It is one thing for someone to start their career again after a few years out of work, but some people stay out for decades because it was a family decision,” Baker said. “It can be a real challenge to get a job in this market after being away for so long.”
“One of the proposals would end alimony when the paying party reaches retirement age. This fails to consider the cases where a divorce may not happen until one or both parties are at retirement age when the divorce occurs, which is happening more and more often. One of the spouses may have been a stay at home spouse with little or no eligibility for Social Security benefits and could be precluded from receiving support after an arbitrary age is reached. This is a great example of why judges need to be able to make the final determination on a case by case basis,” Baker said.