Florida Legislature makes historic win

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Legislature made history on 18th of April with the passage of sweeping changes to the state’s old alimony reform laws. The Florida House voted 85-31 in favor of HB 231, with which permanent alimony will be eliminated and replaced by the bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative or durational alimony.

The bill has now been given to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.

According to the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Ritch Workman, the former spouse seeking alimony must prove they have need, and the obligor must have the ability to pay. The legislation also requires the court to make written findings justifying any extension of alimony outside of the prescribed guidelines. During the debate on the house floor, Workman said to his fellow lawmakers, “This good bill will provide much-needed statutory guidelines and promote predictability and fairness”.

Before this, companion bill SB 718 passed 29-11 in the Florida Senate which was sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs) voted in favor of the legislation. Moskowitz is a child of divorced parents; he observed that the financial relationship that bonded his divorced parents together caused extreme hatred between them. “We never spent time as a family when that financial relationship was in place. It was only after that (financial) relationship ended that we were able to move on and my family was able to heal,” he told his colleagues.

The co-founder and spokesman for Family Law Reform, Alan Frisher worked hard to find a fair and equitable solution. His view about the bill was that it is in favor of families; it will support and help generations of the future. He said, “My children will never have to experience what I, and so many others, have had to go through. This legislation is in the best interest of children and families. Now, fairness, transparency, and predictability will prevail. Family lawyers, whose income thrives from the litigation caused by taking advantage of the uncertainties in the law, will have to re-evaluate how they structure their practices”.

The opponents of the bill criticize it by saying it as anti-woman. Rep. Elizabeth Porter (D-Plantation) and many other female lawmakers observed it as a gender-neutral bill. Porter said, “I have a daughter and a son and I want to see them treated equally. This isn’t about women’s rights or taking things away from women. I come from a line of strong women. Let’s not say someone needs to take care of us for the rest of our lives”.

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