By: Whitney Ray
Legislation to end permanent alimony and set stricter guidelines for other divorce settlements passed another House committee today. As Whitney Ray tells us, if the bill becomes law old alimony settlements could be reworked.
A wedding, a celebration of love and commitment. But what happens after the cake’s cut if the couple splits?
In Florida, depending on how long the couple was married and other factors, one spouse could pay the other spouse for the rest of their life. It’s called permanent alimony. And bill moving through the committee process at the state capitol would eliminate it.
Thursday, divorced man after divorced man stood in front of lawmakers and called permanent alimony a life sentence.
“I’ve been held in bondage by the state and forced to pay alimony against my will for the past 30 years,” said RC Lindsey, a 77 year old divorced man.
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Ritch Workman, says the current system is outdated.
“Things have change in the family and so should alimony,” said Workman.
But opponents, like Elisha Roy with the Florida Bar, say the legislation would keep spouses from staying home and raising kids.
“Essentially what this bill says it, ‘you’ve got to go to work. You’ve got to work to your highest potential while you’re at work, cause if you don’t you are going to have a very short period of time, half the length of your marriage, to figure out a way to make back that social security that you sacrificed and make back that retirement income you sacrificed,’” said Roy.
The bill would also allow old alimony cases to be reworked.
“Essentially what we are doing is opening the flood gates to every divorce that has ever been decided in Florida,” said Roy.
After several amendments and a few objections, the bill passed. Workman says he’ll continue to amend the bill in an effort to gain support.
The bill has now passed two committees in the House and one in the Senate and could be ready for a floor vote before the end of the month.