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Florida alimony bill defeated -- again

It may come as something of a surprise for people to learn that one of the more controversial issues to be debated in Tallahassee over the last few years hasn't been education, health care or immigration, but rather alimony.

If you have a hard time believing it, consider that Governor Rick Scott has vetoed measures calling for major reform of the state's spousal maintenance laws twice in the last four legislative sessions, including one just last year.

Specifically, he vetoed a measure that essentially rewrote the state's alimony laws back in 2013 over its inclusion of a provision making the reforms retroactive, something he indicated could do a great disservice to those older spouses who had spent their working lives as homemakers.

As for last year's alimony measure vetoed by Scott, it called for the elimination of permanent alimony, as well as the creation of a formula for judges to use (and depart from if necessary) when computing alimony based on both the length of the marriage and the combined income of the spouses.

Its defeat, said the governor at time, was attributable to the eleventh hour inclusion of a controversial shared parenting provision.

What made last year's measure so noteworthy was that it was the product of a mutual agreement between The Florida Bar's Family Law Section and alimony reform advocates, which had disagreed on the issue for years.

In recent developments, an alimony measure sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) that mirrored last year's -- sans the shared parenting provision -- has already been defeated -- but not by the governor .

Rather, Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) indicated yesterday that the alimony proposal would not be scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, which he currently chairs.

"We have more pressing issues that we're dealing with as it relates to the safety and welfare of children than to tie up the committee with the alimony bill at this time," he said.

While alimony reform might be off the table for now, there's a very good chance it will be revisited during the next term.

If you have questions or concerns relating to divorce or another family law issue, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can provide answers and pursue solutions.          

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