The house committee clarifies the bill to end permanent maintenance
The House of Representatives’ alimony reform bill was approved by the Civil Judiciary Committee on March 27.
HB 1409, sponsored by Wildwood Republican John Paul Temple, the Chamber’s companion measure to SB 1416, passed 14-1 with Rep. Patt Maney, R-Shalimar, standing as the sole dissent.
In contrast to previous support reform efforts, Temple said this bill brings everyone together.
“This bill has been going on for quite some time,” Temple said. “I am pleased to report that both sides involved, the lawyers and the reform group, agree on every point of this bill. Every piece.”
Temple mentioned that agreeing to go ahead is one of the reasons he decided to take the action.
The bill eliminates enduring alimony and replaces it with enduring alimony, which Temple says is critical to the process.
“An award set for a specific period of time, rather than indefinitely, allows parties to properly plan their finances and future, and lends a much-needed finality to the process,” Temple said.
Temple said the measure also includes key derogations and safety valve language to exceed the caps in certain circumstances to ensure vulnerable people are protected. It also establishes a 365-day traceability period, during which the courts can determine whether a supportive relationship exists and reduce or eliminate the need for maintenance.
“This will reduce the shenanigans in this process and restore fairness,” Temple said.
While Temple detailed what the bill does, he also explained what the bill doesn’t do.
“It’s not a 50-50 time-share guess,” Temple said. “It’s nothing that would negatively impact existing alimony payments. There is no unconstitutional retroactivity.”
Temple added a conforming amendment to the bill that echoed the language Senator Joe Gruters added to his measure in the Senate Tax Policy Committee last week. Both calculations are identical again.
Speaking on behalf of the Bar Association’s family law department, Andrea Reid praised the move.
“I want to thank Rep. Temple and Sen. Gruters for putting up with the Family Law Department for about a decade while we argued and fought over this bill,” Reid said. “That’s a good score for this year. This is not unconstitutionally retrospective and I am proud to support this bill on behalf of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Family Law Section.”
The measure now goes to the Judiciary Committee before it is ready for the House floor.
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