TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Legislation designed to reform Florida's permanent alimony laws has cleared most major legislative hurdles and is well on its way toward final passage.
On March 21, SB 718 passed 12-2 in the Senate Rules Committee. Next and final stop: the full House and Senate, for a vote.
"I am thrilled. Many who are ordered to pay permanent alimony soon will get relief," said Alan Frisher, president and spokesman for Family Law Reform. "Passage of this bill means that our children, and future generations will be protected from the abuses associated with permanent alimony."
Debbie Leff Israel, founder of the Second Wives Club, a subgroup of FAR, spoke on behalf of thousands of women in Florida who are permanent alimony payers, second wives, and girlfriends of permanent alimony payers.
"This bill is not anti-women, but pro fairness," Leff Israel said in response to critics who argue it will create hardships for ex-wives. "This bill has provisions for the true homemaker aged out of the workforce, but right now able-bodied, educated people are receiving alimony and often game the system by cohabiting in a de facto marriage while collecting permanent alimony."
Tanya Williams, a dentist and permanent alimony payer, said she has paid her ex-husband, to whom she was married, for 20 years, $3,500 a month since their divorce 10 years ago.
"He was violent and abusive and when I graduated from college he decided against my wishes that he no longer wanted to work," Williams said. "All I ever asked for is to be able to live the rest of my life away from him and his influence, but this is impossible if the laws do not change."
Earlier this month, SB 718 – sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland – passed 8-1 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Companion bill HB 231 – sponsored by Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne – passed in the House Judiciary Committee 14-4.
Both bills eliminate permanent alimony, replacing it with bridge-the-gap, durational, or rehabilitative alimony. The legislation also requires the court to make written findings justifying any extension of alimony outside of the prescribed guidelines. The former spouse seeking alimony also must prove they have a need, and the obligor must have the ability to pay, under the proposed legislation.
Frisher said existing law provides little or no guidance to judges and ultimately results in tremendous financial burdens due to litigation warfare.
"This bill goes a long way toward fixing that. Our bill has three themes, fairness, predictability and preserving an acceptable amount of judicial discretion," Frisher said.
Founded in 2010, Florida Alimony Reform was created to change the state's antiquated alimony laws. Based in Tavares, Florida, FAR represents more than 3500 families across Florida.
The Florida Alimony Reform logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=11350
CONTACT: Media inquiries only Susan R. Miller Boardroom Communications firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 954-370-8999 Cell: 954-294-4973 Alan Frisher AFrisher@FloridaAlimonyReform.com Phone: 352-577-5706