Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Says Alimony Reform Debate Brings Focus on Financial Consequences of Ending a Marriage

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Brian M. Moskowitz of The Law Offices of Brian M. Moskowitz says couples should speak with a family law attorney before jumping to conclusions about financial consequences of a divorce.

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Brian M. Moskowitz

Coming to terms with a dissolving marriage is difficult enough for most couples, and the financial consequences of a divorce are typically of paramount concern. Alimony can help mitigate those concerns when awarded equitably.

The recent legislative attempt to change how Florida awards alimony has renewed the debate over how to be fair to both spouses during a divorce, Boca Raton divorce attorney Brian Moskowitz said today.

“Coming to terms with a dissolving marriage is difficult enough for most couples, and the financial consequences of a divorce are typically of paramount concern,” said Moskowitz, whose Boca Raton family law firm handles divorce cases throughout South Florida. “Alimony can help mitigate those concerns when awarded equitably.”

During the 2012 legislative session, several Florida lawmakers pushed to reform the state’s alimony laws. They called the laws “outdated,” “anti-family” and “anti-marriage,” according to a press release from Florida Alimony Reform, an advocacy group. The reform bill passed the House but died in the Senate.

According to Moskowitz, the purpose of Florida alimony is to provide monetary support to whichever spouse was financially weaker during the marriage. The length of the marriage, earning potential of the spouse who needs support and the emotional and physical health of each party are among factors courts use when determining alimony awards.

“The courts also examine marital and non-marital assets, the contributions both spouses made to the marriage and a variety of other elements in alimony cases,” Moskowitz said. “It is a very detailed process that can take some time to weed through.

“The ultimate goal is to come up with a fair decision that will make sure that support is available for both parties to maintain a sufficient standard of living. This is particularly essential in marriages where children are involved.”

Moskowitz said that, under current Florida law, there are four main types of alimony:

  •     Bridge the gap – Alimony awarded on a short-term basis to assist a person with the transition from being married to single.
  •     Rehabilitative – Provides money to help a party establish or reestablish the educational and vocational skills needed to become self-supporting.
  •     Durational – Income provided to a spouse for set period of time following a marriage of short (less than seven years) or moderate (more than seven but less than 17 years) duration.
  •     Permanent – Typically awarded in marriages of long duration (17 years or more), permanent alimony provides money to a spouse who cannot earn enough to maintain the standard of living they had before the divorce.

Among several proposed reforms, the Florida alimony reform bill, H.B. 549, would have changed the longevity of permanent alimony payments to last until the paying spouse reached retirement age. Under the existing statute, payments continue until the death of either party or if the recipient remarries.

The bill would also have required judges to limit alimony payments so that the net income or standard of living for the paying ex-spouse would not be limited. In circumstances when the payer remarries, the courts also would not be allowed to consider the new spouse’s income in determining alimony awards.

“It is obvious that heated debates will continue over Florida’s alimony system,” said Moskowitz. “Our law firm will certainly keep a watch over any legislative activity that could overhaul how divorces are handled in the state.”

The Boca Raton divorce lawyer added that divorcing couples should speak with a family law attorney before jumping to conclusions about the financial consequences of a split.

“Divorce law can be complicated, and advocates on both sides of the debate may present confusing arguments,” he explained. “It’s better to speak with a lawyer with experience handling alimony claims so that one gets the most current information in the simplest terms.”

About The Law Offices of Brian M. Moskowitz

The Law Offices of Brian M. Moskowitz handles a variety of family law cases for clients throughout southern Florida, including Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, Palm Beach and Palm Beach County. The firm handles cases that include divorce, child custody, child support, mediation, modification, relocation, paternity and adoption. For more information, call the firm at (561) 369-4481 or use its online form.

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