Mar 31, 2021 - News

Some women are joining a renewed fight to end Florida's permanent alimony

Illustration of two broken wedding bands arranged into the shape of a dollar sign.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Some women have stepped up to fight for a bill that would put an end to Florida's system of permanent alimony, saying it's not fair that they have to forever fund the lifestyles of their ex-husbands.

  • "I was married for 15 years, and this is my 15th year of paying permanent alimony to a college-educated man who just refuses to work," said Natalie Willis, a medical doctor from South Florida.

What's new: Senate Bill 1922, sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), was approved by the chamber's Judiciary Committee yesterday and now moves on to the Appropriations Committee.

  • The bill's backers, including a group called Florida Family Fairness, claim that trends show that an increasing number of alimony payers are women — and the law as written sometimes entitles their ex-husbands to lifelong support payments.

The state of play: Under the new bill, the longest alimony payouts could at most equal half the length of the marriage.

  • It ends alimony once the payer reaches retirement age, whereas permanent alimony granted under the current system only terminates it in most cases if someone remarries or dies.
  • The text also includes a controversial "presumption" that a 50/50 child-sharing split would be in kids' best interests.

The other side: The bill's opponents — many of them women as well — say the current system works, since many stay-at-home moms get divorced too late in life to be expected to start a career.

Context: Similar alimony reform bills were vetoed by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2013 and 2016.

  • Worth noting: The vetoed versions would have been applied retroactively, while the new proposal would not.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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