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Senate votes 24-14 to approve alimony overhaul bill

The Florida Senate OK’d a proposal that overhauls the state’s alimony system.

The Florida Senate voted 24-14 to approve the measure (SB 668), which changes the way Florida judges can award spousal support.

“This is a very, very emotional thing,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel, the Lakeland Republican who sponsored the bill.

Among other things, the bill allows the court to modify alimony payments if there is a substantial change in circumstances, including unemployment or retirement. For years, former spouses have said permanent alimony isn’t fair. Their exes, usually women, have fought back saying they shouldn’t be penalized for having trouble re-entering the workplace.

“This is unfair. This is inequitable. This is not what we should be doing now,” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat. “I think this is a travesty, a disgrace and a shame that we would do this to those who have given their all for their families.”

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In addition to tinkering with the alimony language, the bill calls on judges to begin with the premise that children should spend equal time with each parent when awarding child custody. On Friday, Sen. Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican, amended the bill to specify that the time-share language is not retroactive.

The bill now heads to the House.

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