TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 19, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Florida Legislature made history on April 18 with the passage of sweeping changes to the state's outdated alimony reform laws.
The Florida House voted 85-31 in favor of HB 231, which eliminates permanent alimony, replacing it with bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, or durational alimony to consistently ensure swift resolution for families. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.
The legislation requires the court to make written findings justifying any extension of alimony outside of the prescribed guidelines. The former spouse seeking alimony also must prove they have a need, and the obligor must have the ability to pay, under the legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne).
"This good bill will provide much-needed statutory guidelines and promote predictability and fairness," Workman told his fellow lawmakers during debate on the House floor. He noted that the bill does allow judicial discretion under special circumstances.
Earlier this month, companion bill SB 718 passed 29-11 in the Florida Senate. Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) was the sponsor.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs) is among those who voted in favor of the legislation. A child of divorced parents, Moskowitz noted that the financial relationship that tied his divorced parents together created years of animosity between them.
"We never spent time as a family when that financial relationship was in place," Moskowitz told his colleagues. "It was only after that (financial) relationship ended that we were able to move on and my family was able to heal."
Alan Frisher, co-founder and spokesman for Family Law Reform, the not-for-profit organization that has worked tirelessly to ensure a fair and equitable solution, said the bill is pro-family and would help future generations.
"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," Frisher said. "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."
Although opponents tried to position the bill as anti-woman, numerous female lawmakers, including Rep. Elizabeth Porter (D-Plantation), noted it is a gender-neutral bill.
"I have a daughter and a son and I want to see them treated equally," Porter said. "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."
Founded in 2010, Family Law Reform was created to change the state's antiquated alimony laws. Based in Tavares, Florida, FLR represents more than 4000 families across Florida.
CONTACT: Media inquiries only Susan R. Miller or Katie Ward Boardroom Communications firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com 954-370-8999 Alan Frisher Family Law Reform AFrisher@FamilyLawReform.com 352-577-5706
Source: Florida Alimony Reform