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Bill to end permanent alimony clears House panel

Senior Editor Top Stories
John Paul Temple

Rep. John Paul Temple

The House alimony reform bill cleared the Civil Justice Committee 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 lone dissent.

Unlike previous alimony reform efforts, Temple said this bill has everyone coming together.

“This bill has been going on for quite some time,” Temple said. “I’m happy to report that both sides that are involved in this, the lawyers, and the reform group, agree on every piece that is in this bill. Every piece.”

Temple mentioned that the agreement to move forward was one of the reasons he chose to take up the measure.

The bill eliminates permanent alimony and replaces it with durational alimony, which Temple says is critical to the process.

“An award that is set for a set period instead of indefinitely allows the parties to properly plan for their finances and futures and gives a much-needed finality to the process,” Temple said.

Temple said the measure also contains important deviations and safety valve language to exceed the caps in certain specified circumstances to ensure that vulnerable persons are protected. It also establishes a 365-day look-back period for the courts to determine whether a supportive relationship exists and may reduce or eliminate the need for alimony.

“This will reduce the gamesmanship in this process and restore fairness,” Temple said.

While Temple laid out exactly what the bill does, he also explained what the bill doesn’t do.

“It is not a 50-50 time-sharing presumption,” Temple said. “It is not anything that would negatively impact existing alimony awards. There is no unconstitutional retroactivity.”

Temple added one conforming amendment to the bill that matched the language Sen. Joe Gruters added to his measure last week in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee. Both bills are once again identical.

Speaking on behalf of the Bar’s Family Law Section, Andrea Reid praised the measure.

“I want to thank Rep. Temple and Sen. Gruters for putting up with the Family Law Section for about a decade as we’ve argued and fought about this bill,” Reid said. “This is a good bill this year. This is not unconstitutionally retroactive and I’m proud on behalf of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Family Law Section to support this bill.”

The measure now heads to the Judiciary Committee before it’s ready for the House floor.

 

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