Alimony Reform Returns

Alimony reform was one of the hottest topics of last year's legislative session. Governor Rick Scott vetoed the bill sent to his desk, but sponsors are ready to try again this spring.

Sometime after the wedding day toast, the glass becomes empty for half of all marriages. Legislation passed last year made sweeping changes to alimony, including ending permanent alimony. But the bill was vetoed because it would have allowed disgruntled spouses to change their existing settlements based on the new law.

Sponsor Rich Workman has a scaled back bill for this spring. “Let's make sure that if you lie about cohabitation, that you have to pay back the alimony that you received once you lied about living with your new spouse."

National Organization for Women lobbyist Barbara DeVane worked night and day to successfully get last year's bill vetoed. "Every case is different, it's very personal, they're very different and we shouldn't just trade what he calls, cookie cutter approach for another bad cookie cutter approach."

But Workman says he's paid attention to what the Governor said last year. "I still believe that we should be able to fix mistakes in the past. But that is not something that we will be able to pass again this year."

Even a scaled down version may be a tough sell. What's different in 2014 from last year is that this is election year and the last thing that Rick Scott needs is to make woman angry.

Rick Scott is in a fierce re-election battle. DeVane says Scott has made his position clear. "I understand that the Governor didn't want any alimony bill on his desk this election year."

The scaled down legislation is expected to be filed next week.

DeVane concedes that some reforms might be needed, but says a sledge hammer approach would hurt millions of people.


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