An amendment to Florida’s alimony laws was unanimously approved by the House Judiciary Committee. That sets the bill (HB1409) on the way to a vote in the House of Representatives.
representative John Paul Temple, a Wildwood Republican, said he’s worked to get parties into legislation that will ultimately determine how couples separate. Specifically, the bill would eliminate permanent post-divorce alimony in Florida. Instead, a “stamina” system would decide what is owed based on the length of marriages.
“Divorce is tough,” Temple said. “It can be ugly and hurtful. I believe this bill will help make that process smoother and less ugly.”
That includes making divorces final, rather than ending financial relationships forever, he said. The bill provides a period of one year to evaluate agreements reached in divorce
Temple received support from both the Family Law Division of the Florida Bar Association and Fairness of the Florida family, a maintenance reform group. He’s also seen bipartisan support at two committee stops where he saw only a “no” vote from the Republican representative. Pat Maney during a stop by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
But the bill still gripped many women, as a change in the law will retroactively change the rule in their own divorce judgments.
“What I negotiated, what a lot of people negotiated as part of a prenuptial agreement, will retroactively affect them,” he said Muriel Meuniere. “I’m really not happy and would have negotiated differently.”
But supporters of the bill said that wasn’t true. While previous versions of the bill made some retrospective changes, this bill respects previous agreements negotiated under the law as it existed at the time of a divorce. Trish ArmstrongRepresentatives from the Florida Bar Association’s family law division said this was critical to the legal organization’s decision to support the legislation.
“If this were unconstitutional retrospective and adversely affected ongoing agreements, the section would not support it,” she said.
representative Yvonne Hinsona Gainesville Democrat, Temple urged how the law could be clearer to protect existing settlements.
“I don’t believe in permanent alimony, and I believe people should find a way to become independent,” she said. However, she was concerned about the confusion that existed among the public and suggested that an amendment might be needed to make respect for previous comparisons clearer.
An identical Senate draft (SB1416) sponsored by Sen. Joe Grutersa Republican from Sarasota, also cleared two committees in the upper chamber and is awaiting a plenary vote.
Even if both chambers of the legislature can clarify something, there is of course another hurdle in front of us. Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed it a maintenance reform law was passed last year.
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