The governor of Florida should veto plans to end lifetime alimony, a women’s group has claimed.
A recently approved bill would, if passed, remove the option to award women lifetime alimony (maintenance), eliminate alimony for marriages of less than two years’ duration, and clarify the existing method of calculating alimony payments, taking the length of the marriage and any difference in earnings between the spouses into consideration.
Florida is one of the few remaining American states to allow lifetime maintenance payments following divorce. If awarded it continues until either the paying party dies or the receiving party marries again. Critics say this places an excessive financial burden on the payer, usually the husband.
The bill was sponsored by two female politicians from Lakeland in central Florida – both Republicans: Representative Colleen Burton and Senator Kelli Stargel.
It also specifies a presumption that the children of divorcing parents should spend equal amounts of time with both.
The bill has now reached the desk of Florida governor Rick Scott. Toni Van Pelt of the Florida National Organisation for Women called on him to veto the legislation.
She told local TV station 10 News:
“I’m concerned for the women and for the children. It’s proven over and over again that women do not receive equal pay for equal work so that is something that needs to be considered.”
She claimed that not enough was known about the possible real world effects of the legislation.
“I think that what needs to be done is more studying on how will these provisions, how will these bills actually affect real families.”
Van Pelt also questioned the childcare provisions, saying they “might not be the best interest of the child, that should be the first consideration.”
But local attorney Alan Rosenthal is in favour. He insisted:
“As far as permanent alimony, I think it’s time has come and gone. Men and women basically have an equal opportunity to join the workforce.”
He also backed the childcare changes, saying:
“If the court can’t come up with a good reason, I think mom and dad should have equal rights to see the minor children and I think it’s very important that they do have equal rights.”