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Alimony Reform Bill Passes First Subcommittee

A push to overhaul Florida’s alimony system cleared its first subcommittee on Wednesday. The bill passed through overwhelmingly, despite strong objections from the Florida Bar Family Law Section.

Permanent alimony payer, 62-year-old Tarie MacMillan testified, she cannot afford to retire because she has to pay her ex-husband 65 percent of every paycheck, even though he refuses to work, until the day one of them dies.

“I’m out of funds, and I cannot hire an attorney," she said. "So I’m left on my own to decipher legal documents and try to keep my head above water. Passing of this bill will change many lives in a positive way.”

Bill sponsor, Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne), says he wants to put an end to burdensome, lifelong payments. And most of the committee agreed, voting 10-2 in favor of the bill.

But their votes came after hearing staunch objections from Florida Bar family lawyers. They said, the bill would create a flood of new legal action because it allows for retroactive adjustments to all existing alimony agreements. And they say, it's written in a way that favors alimony payers at the expense of recipients.

This is the second year Workman has sponsored an alimony reform measure. Last year's attempt passed the House but died in the Senate.