Upkeep reform within the Capitol

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) – Major changes to the state maintenance law are on the table at the State Capitol.

Legislation heard on a Senate committee on Monday afternoon would end permanent alimony 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.

After the proposed comprehensive changes, maintenance would no longer be permanent, but limited to half of the marriage period.

“I am 68 years old. I want to retire. I don’t know how to do this if I have to keep paying him that money, ”Shultz said.

Senate sponsor Joe Gruters said alimony would also end upon retirement.

“That doesn’t end with the maintenance. Only permanent maintenance ends. But on top of that, you still get 50 percent of the total marital assets, ”said Gruters.

Under current law, alimony only ends if a spouse remarries or a court agrees, but this legislation ends alimony if someone receives significant support, such as living with someone who pays the bills.

“What happens is that they will just never get married again because it is not in their best interests. And ultimately it cheats the system, ”said Anthony Rodriquez MP, who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives.

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 pursues his career and then throwing her aside,” said Barbara DeVane of Florida NOW.

The legislation makes it easier for both spouses to go to court to request an up or down change. The bill also states that there is a presumption that spouses will share children equally.

Then-Governor Rick Scott vetoed similar ideas in 2013 and 2016.

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