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New alimony laws bring unexpected changes to couples

Texas residents may be interested to know that the much-discussed alimony legislation reform was passed by the Florida Senate on April 4 by more than a two-to-one margin. When people file for divorce, they can expect that alimony will change and that permanent alimony may become a thing of the past.

The courts can modify current divorce agreements to update the changes in the law. Many people will be impacted, including children, those who pay alimony and those who receive it. The bill has completely overhauled a system that is considered to have worked fairly well. On the other hand, it might not help those who most need the financial support. In addition, the courts could be overburdened as thousands of people go back to court to modify agreements that are already in place.

One lawyer reported that he had numerous calls from clients over his 33 years of practice who are just waiting for the laws to change so that they can stop paying permanent alimony. Some people gave up financial rights in one area because they thought they would receive alimony to compensate. The vagueness of the bill has brought it under attack from the Florida Bar.

Current laws allow for changes that the bill was purported to address. Payers already have the option of filing for relief. For example, if a former spouse who receives permanent alimony remarries or is supported by someone else, the courts can decide to terminate alimony. When couples go through a divorce, they may not know the best way to divide their assets and plan for the future. Family law lawyers might be able to help them with prenuptial agreement, which can take changing laws into consideration.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Know the financials before divorce," Jennifer Failla, April 5, 2013

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