'Permanent alimony' one step closer to elimination

Divorced men describe alimony laws as life sentence

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Legislation to end permanent alimony and set stricter guidelines for other divorce settlements passed another Florida House committee on Thursday.

The bill has now passed two committees in the House and one in the Senate and could be ready for a floor vote before the end of the month.

The goal of the bill is to target and eliminate permanent alimony. In Florida, depending on how long a couple was married and other factors, one spouse could pay the other spouse for the rest of their life.

On Thursday, divorced man after divorced man stood in front of lawmakers and called permanent alimony a life sentence.

"I've been held in bondage by the state and forced to pay alimony against my will for the past 30 years," said R.C. Lindsey.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said the current system is outdated.

"Things have change in the family and so should alimony," said Workman.

But opponents like Elisha Roy with the Florida Bar argue the legislation would keep spouses from staying home and raising kids.

"Essentially, what this bill says is, ‘You've got to go to work. You've got to work to your highest potential while you're at work, cause if you don't you are going to have a very short period of time, half the length of your marriage, to figure out a way to make back that social security that you sacrificed and make back that retirement income you sacrificed,'" said Roy.

The bill would also allow old alimony cases to be reworked.

"Essentially, what we are doing is opening the flood gates to every divorce that has ever been decided in Florida," said Roy.

After several amendments and a few objections, the bill passed.

Workman said he'll continue to amend the bill in an effort to gain support.

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