Legislators want alimony reform, only if Rick Scott gives OK

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Last spring Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that overhauled Florida’s divorce laws; lawmakers and alimony-reform advocates are trying again in the 2014 session.

As Lloyd Dunkelberger writes in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a group promoting alimony reform will meet in Orlando this week, advocating legislation that would eliminate permanent alimony and change alimony payment rules for almost 80,000 divorce cases filed each year in the state.

Rep. Ritch Workman, a Republican from Melbourne, who constructed the House legislation in spring 2013, wants to pick up the alimony issue again. However, it is up to the governor — who is campaigning for re-election next year—to signal lawmakers he is willing to accept a new version of the bill.

On vetoing the divorce reform bill, Scott made it clear that he was unwilling to interfere with alimony, an emotional issue for many Floridians.

Advocates for changing alimony rules maintain the current law creates “immense hardship” for people supporting ex-spouses until death, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the judgment. Long-term alimony forces many payers into financial insolvency or bankruptcy. They believe that as life circumstances change, so does the need to modify alimony.

Opponents of alimony reform see any change could negatively affect women, a segment of voters Scott desperately needs for his re-election bid.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.