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Senate panel OK’s alimony overhaul bill

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The Senate Appropriations Committee OK’d its alimony overhaul bill, paving the way for a vote in the full Senate in the coming days.

Among other things, the bill changes the way Florida judges can award alimony. The proposal (SB 668) allows the courts to modify alimony payments if there is a substantial change in circumstances. The changes can occur for several reasons, including the person paying become unemployed or has reached the age to receive full benefits from the Social Security Act and is retired.

For years, former spouses — mostly men — have said permanent alimony isn’t fair. Their exes, usually women, have fought back, saying they shouldn’t be penalized for having trouble re-entering the workforce.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, the Lakeland Republican sponsoring the bill, said she is looking out for women. She said the bill “takes some of the emotion out of the process.”

“I did look out for the women in this situation. I am a woman who got married at 17, worked to put my husband through undergraduate and law school, stayed at home and five children,” said Stargel, the Lakeland Republican sponsoring the bill. “But I’ve also seen friends of mine in similar situations go to court and litigate …  and fight to the point that at the end of the day the parents hate each other more than they love their children. I want to see a situation that puts in place a formula … that takes some of the emotion out of the process.”

A similar bill is poised for a vote by the full House. Stargel’s bill now heads to the full Senate.

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