Alimony bill sponsors urge Scott to sign bill into lawby Dara Kam | April 23rd, 2013
Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, and Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, publicly urged Gov. Rick Scott to sign into law a bill (SB 718) revamping the state’s alimony laws.
“You have to be able to move on. Divorce sucks anyway. And Florida law shouldn’t make it suck worse,” Workman told reporters at a press conference this morning.
Workman said Scott is expected to receive the bill today. Scott will have seven days to act on the bill, which would become law without his signature if he does not veto it before then.
Groups on both sides of the issue – the Family Law section of the Florida Bar and Florida Alimony Reform – have launched dueling petitions asking Scott to veto or sign the bill. The Family Law section opposes the measure, saying it puts women – who are more likely to receive alimony – at a disadvantage. The alimony reform proponents have been trying for years to get the law changed because they say current law is unfair and forces some spouses to pay alimony for life to their exes even if they have been married a short time. More than 2,200 people have signed online petitions asking for the veto compared to about 6,000 in favor.
Workman said he is not concerned that Scott will veto the bill but “want to make sure this bill has a fair shot of being signed” and that the governor reads nearly 6,000 stories sent to him from families supporting the changes.
“I hope he can see that laws need to be updated. They need to be gender-neutral. They need to be blind to the sex of the individual and they need to be fair and just,” he said.
Stargel, who said she has been married for 29 years, said she sponsored the bill because she saw “a system that was abusive” to both spouses.
“What we’ve done is put in a framework that makes it fair for everybody,” she said.
The measure effectively does away with permanent alimony and eliminates alimony for people married less than 11 years. Florida Department of Health statistics for the past five years show that the average length of marriage in Florida that end in divorce last less than 10.5 years.
The measure would also:
_ Generally prevent alimony payments from lasting longer than one-half the length of the marriage.
_ Set a formula for alimony payments based on the income of the payer and the length of the marriage.
_ Allow ex-spouses who retire to end or reduce alimony.
_ Give judges now responsible for determining the amount of alimony discretion only in special circumstances.