Politics
8:28 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Florida's Vetoed Alimony Bill Likely To Return In 2014

Rep. Ritch Workman (left) chats with Rep. Doug Broxson in the House chamber.
Rep. Ritch Workman (left) chats with Rep. Doug Broxson in the House chamber.
Credit Mark Foley/myfloridahouse.gov

A bill that would have ended permanent alimony in Florida was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott a few months ago. But plans are already being made to bring it back next year.

Members of the group Family Law Reform will hold a summit and fundraiser in Orlando on August 17, focused on reforming what they say are outdated permanent alimony laws.

Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, told a House Committee last March it's not about getting rid of alimony – it's about being fair.

“I could pack this entire chamber, the chamber of this House, with abuse that's taken place over the last several decades with alimony,” Workman said, “where alimony was used as a weapon by the judge to punish the person that they thought was wrong in the divorce.”

John Frumalero thinks he's a good example of what's wrong with the current law. The Pensacola financial advisor explained his plight to the House Judiciary committee.

“Married just under 19 years. My ex-wife was a military retired officer – her own pension, college educated. Frumalero said his ex-wife filed for divorce and “was determined that she was entitled to permanent alimony.”

Workman says many divorcés like Frumalero can't retire when they're ready because they're saddled with lifelong alimony payments.

“We are a no fault state. Whether you agree with that or not, we are, and alimony should never be used as a weapon,” Workman said.    

In a news release, Workman said the bill is not “anti-alimony, anti-spouse or anti-woman.” 

Workman said the bill is not "anti-alimony, anti-spouse or anti-woman."

He said he doesn't hate alimony, only the abuse of it.

Workman filed the bill late last year shortly after his own divorce was final. He said the bill wouldn't have impacted him because he isn't paying alimony.

Critics of the bill were relieved to learn of the governor's veto, which came just hours before the bill would have become law without his signature.

The League of Women Voters of Florida president Deirdre Macnab issued this statement saying the bill was unfair and possibly unconstitutional. She said it “would have had an unfortunate impact on families in this state and undermined Floridians' right to enter into contracts.”

Carin Porras, chairwoman of the Family LawsSection of The Florida Bar, said in a statement that the bill “would have left many women with diminished means, depriving them of their vested contractual rights that their ex-spouses agreed to.”

Scott said he vetoed the bill in part because it would have affected alimony agreements that were made long ago. It also would have required most divorced couples to share equal custody of their children.

Bill supporters could decide to remove those provisions when the legislation is reintroduced next year.