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Fla. Gov. Vetoes Bill to End Permanent Alimony

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on May 02, 2013 9:52 AM

Supporters of a bill to reform Florida's permanent alimony law say they will try again next year, after the governor's veto killed the measure late Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Scott explained his veto in a letter to the state Senate's president. "The retroactive adjustment of alimony could result in unfair, unexpected results," Scott said, according to The Tampa Tribune.

What exactly did the now-defunct bill call for?

How Alimony Is Determined in Florida

Spousal support, or alimony, covers court ordered payments made from one ex-spouse to another. In considering which spouse gets paid and how much, courts in states like Florida look at:

  • An evaluation of each spouse. This includes the age, health, mental well-being and financial strength of each spouse.
  • The time needed to become self-sufficient. A spouse may need time to go to school, for example. How much time is needed can determine how long they get paid.
  • The standard of living during the marriage. If you lived in a small apartment while married, you won't be checking into the Four Seasons with your alimony payments.
  • The length of the marriage. A six-month marriage may not merit much alimony.
  • Whether one spouse can pay and still support herself. This may determine both the amount and who pays.

In addition to the above considerations, Florida's law allows for permanent alimony, which is awarded only when other types of alimony with shorter durations are not fair or reasonable for that divorce.

Permanent alimony in Florida can last a lifetime, but it can also be changed or even ended if there is a "substantial change" with the circumstances of each ex-spouse or their supportive relationship.

The Vetoed Bill: SB 718

The bill that Gov. Scott vetoed would have stricken permanent alimony from the types of alimony allowed in Florida, no longer allowing alimony to continue until the death of either ex-spouse.

The bill would also have required courts, when calculating any future alimony payments, to consider the potential effect on the paying spouse's retirement. Many feared that this would have left former housewives whose ex-husbands are nearing retirement age with little to no spousal support.

Though state lawmakers could override Scott's veto with a two-thirds vote, that seems unlikely before the end of the legislative session Friday, The Miami Herald reports. The issue of permanent alimony reform will likely be revisited in the next lawmaking session, according to the Tribune.

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