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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS / WCJB) – Major changes to the state’s maintenance law are on the table at the State Capitol.
Legislation, heard in a Senate committee Monday afternoon, would end alimony payments and set legal formulas for how much and for how long a spouse would make or receive payments.
Deborah Favata-Shultz, a doctor from Apollo Beach, has been paying alimony for 17 years.
“I’ve been paying alimony while we were married,” Shultz said.
Under the proposed sweeping changes, alimony would no longer be permanent but would be limited to half the duration of the marriage.
“I am 68 years old. I want to retire. I don’t know how to do this if I have to keep paying him this money, ”Shultz said.
Senate sponsor Joe Gruters said alimony will also end upon retirement.
“That doesn’t end with maintenance. Only the permanent maintenance payment ends. In addition, you still get 50 percent of the total marital assets, ”said Gruters.
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Under current law, maintenance only ends if a spouse remarries or a court approves. However, this legislation ends alimony when someone receives significant assistance, such as living with someone who helps with the bills.
“What happened is that they will just never get married again because it is not in their best interests. And it ends up cheating on the system, ”said Rep. Anthony Rodriquez, who sponsors the bill at the house.
The Florida National Organization for Women has been fighting change for a decade.
“This woman is being punished for staying home and looking after the kids while her husband pushes his career and then tossing her aside,” Barbara DeVane told Florida NOW.
The legislation makes it easier for any spouse to go to court to request an up or down change.
The bill also says there is a presumption that spouses share children equally.
Similar ideas were rejected by then Governor Rick Scott in 2013 and 2016.
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