A bill aimed at effectively ending permanent alimony will be brought to the House of Representatives plenary on Thursday following the clarification of its final reference committee.
The Judiciary Committee approved the measure (HB 455), sponsored by the Republican State Rep. Colleen Burton from Lakeland with 14-3 votes.
First and foremost, the measure limits judges’ discretion in granting alimony by providing guidelines on how much an ex-spouse should receive and for how long.
The idea is that “no matter where you live, you can expect to be treated the same,” Burton said.
Your bill has a major Democratic backer in the state of Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Coral Springs, a self-described “child of divorce”.
He said he knew from personal experience that “an indefinite financial relationship between two divorced parents is bad for the children. “
Legislators heard from Tarie MacMillan from Wimauma, a 65-year-old woman who has paid alimony for 16 years. Her husband, a former insurance manager, has decided to quit his job and live on 65 percent of her income, she said.
Alimony “has to be a formula,” said MacMillan, a jewelry retailer. “It is so wrong for one adult to live on another for so long.”
Others continued to insist that the changes will come at the expense of mothers who have chosen to quit work and raise children. After a separation, they have difficulty finding a job and are dependent on maintenance, some as sole support.
“There is no consideration for a mother who stays at home without work experience”, activist Cynthia Wheeler of Palm Beach County said.
Wheeler’s recent appearance in Tallahassee resulted in her excluded from a senate committee when she refused to leave the lectern. On Thursday she spoke again of her allotted minute and until two Sergeants-at-Arms turned off their microphone.
It is the third time in recent years that lawmakers have attempted to change the Florida Alimony Act. An accompanying bill sponsored by Republicans Kelli Stargel from Lakeland, has not yet been heard in the Senate.
Another family law that is postponing this session is SB 250, sponsored by Brandon Republican Tom Leethat would change state child sharing law. This would lead to the assumption that equal part-time use for both parents after a divorce is in the best interests of the child.