TALLAHASSEE, FL. (WTXL) - After years of squabbling, lawmakers are finally united on a major overhaul of Florida's alimony laws, agreeing to do away with permanent alimony and to use formulas to determine payment amounts based on the lengths of marriage and the combined earnings of couples.
The House Civil Justice Subcommittee gave a first nod to the measure in a party-line vote this week. Democrats are skeptical about the proposal they say, favors breadwinners. Bill proponents say, the state's current alimony law perpetuates an entitlement attitude that should not be allowed and is abusive to both the payer and the payee.
House Rules Chairman, Ritch Workman, spent the better part of a year working out a deal between the Florida Bar Family Law Section and Family Law Reform, an organization representing alimony payers who've fought for five years to get the law changed.
“We take out gender. We take out arbitrary dates of how long you’ve been married. We say everyone has a right to get back on their feet, and we do away with some of the inconsistencies. At the end of the day, I think we have done away with a whole lot of unneeded litigation. I think Florida will no longer be known as the state not to get divorced in,” said House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne.
This year's proposal would establish a formula to determine how long ex-spouses can receive alimony. Unlike a measure Governor Rick Scott vetoed two years ago, the current plan would give judges discretion to veer from the formulas for payments or duration under certain conditions.
The National Organization for Women opposed the measure two years ago, and the group's Florida lobbyist objected to the current proposal this week.
The bill has one more committee stop before heading to the House floor for a full vote.