No love lost between parties in alimony bill

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Debates surrounding Florida’s alimony reform legislation, now pending Governor Rick Scott’s signature, are about as contentious as the divorce proceedings the law regards.

SB 718 ends permanent alimony, limits payments based on income and length of marriage, prevents second spouses from supporting ex-wives and husbands, and requires judges to give equal child custody to each parent in most cases.  In general, payments would be barred from lasting more than half the duration of the marriage, and would be limited based on salary.

Opponents protested in front of the governor’s office on Friday, hoping to spread their belief that the measure stifles judges’ ability to determine divorce settlements case-by-case, and wrongly permits already divorced parties to seek new judgments based on these reforms.

Proponents, including Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel and House sponsor Ritch Workman, believe the measure will provide a more equitable metric than Florida courts currently use when calculating alimony, child support and custody arrangements.

If signed into law, Florida will join Massachusetts as the only states having passed major alimony overhauls.

So far Gov. Scott has given no indication of whether he will sign or veto this bill.  Jackie Schutz, spokeswoman for the governor, said that as of Wednesday morning, the office had received 3,076 communications in support of the measure and 475 against.