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Key Alimony Reform Figure Returns To State Senate

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Redistricting forced GOP Senator Kelli Stargel to move from the 15th to the 22nd District, and on election night, she defeated Democrat incumbent Debra Wright. Sen. Stargell raised almost twenty times more money than Sen. Wright, and she carried both Polk and Lake Counties. The overall count was 53.5 percent for Sen. Stargell and 46.5 percent for Sen. Wright.

During the campaign, Sen. Wright sharply criticized Sen. Stargell for being one of the architects of the recent alimony reform bill, which according to Sen. Wright, would have forced children to take a back seat to adults’ financial interests and would have also allowed husbands to come back to court and seek alimony modification. Sen. Stargell countered that the measure would have introduced an element of fairness into the family law system.

Sen. Stargell said workers’ compensation reform, and not alimony reform, topped her agenda in the coming session.

Types of Alimony

Each of the two most recent spousal support reform bills (Governor Rick Scott vetoed them both) targeted long-term alimony. Essentially, many reformers believe that the amount and duration of payments should be narrowly tailored to help obligee spouses become economically self-sufficient, and such support payments should not be a way to permanently redistribute income between the ex-spouses. Although Section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes basically strikes a balance between these two philosophies, some reformers obviously feel that the Sunshine State’s alimony law does not go far enough.

  • Temporary Alimony: In some cases, a sudden divorce leaves obligee spouses with no means of financial support, and at the same time, they must pay attorneys’ fees, rental deposits, and other divorce-related expenses. Alimony pendente lite (“while the case is pending”) gives obligee spouses the short-term funds they need, which is why this kind of alimony automatically terminates when the divorce is finalized.
  • Bridge-the-Gap: To achieve self sufficiency, some obligee spouses need to finish a few hours towards college degrees or accept unpaid internships to re-enter the workforce. Bridge-the-gap alimony provides additional income for up to two years to satisfy these needs.
  • Rehabilitative: In other cases, self-sufficiency does not come as easily, and some obligee spouses need more time to get their job skills up to speed. If the obligee spouses develop written plans of action and stick to them, they can receive rehabilitative spousal support payments to facilitate the “acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials.”
  • Durational: Many reformers have a problem with durational alimony, because obligee spouses with economic needs receive no-strings-attached payments that are capped at the duration of the marriage (g. if the parties were married seven years, the obligee spouse can get up to seven years of durational alimony).
  • Permanent: If durational alimony is insufficient, the court may award lifetime spousal support payments.

Most types of alimony are modifiable based on changed circumstances. Remarriage/cohabitation is something of an issue, because not all live-in arrangements qualify as cohabitation. Likewise, retirement does not trigger automatic termination of payments, but it is a substantial factor for consideration.

Contact Assertive Lawyers

For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie family law attorney who stands up for your legal and financial rights, contact Eighmie Law Firm, PA. We are available to help you today.

Resources:

newschief.com/news/20161108/stargel-defeats-wright-to-keep-her-seat-in-florida-senate-district-22

theledger.com/news/20161021/stargel-challenged-by-wright-in-senate-district-22

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