Kelli Stargel says alimony reform may have to wait until 2018 session

divorce

Alimony overhaul supporters may need to take a break next legislative session, state Sen. Kelli Stargel says.

“I don’t know that I’m willing to take this on again next year,” she told FloridaPolitics.com on Tuesday.

“Then again, a lot can happen between now and the next legislative session. But we need to discuss the merits of a bill and not get into heated rhetoric.”

She backed this year’s bill (SB 668) that Gov. Rick Scott vetoed last week. It would have modified the way Florida judges can award alimony with the intent to eliminate what critics have called “forever alimony.”

The legislation eventually caused “a hollering battle” between about 100 advocates and opponents of the bill outside Scott’s office days before the veto.

Scott’s opposition, however, focused on a 50/50 time-sharing provision in the bill for parents after a divorce. The governor said that had the potential to put the “wants of a parent before the child’s best interest.”

Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, had added that language to her alimony bill. It came from another bill pushed by state Sen. Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican and the outgoing Appropriations chair.

Stargel said she believes that without that time-sharing language Scott would have approved the bill. His veto letter didn’t mention any concerns about the alimony changes in the measure.

The main lesson of this year’s veto is that the two issues – alimony and custody – need to move in separate legislation in the future, she said. Scott vetoed another alimony bill in 2013 because of his concerns about its retroactivity.

Meantime, she said, “the problems are still there” in the current alimony system.

For years, former spouses – mostly men – have said permanent alimony isn’t fair to them. Their exes, usually women, have fought back, saying they shouldn’t be penalized for having trouble re-entering the workforce after staying home for years to raise children.

Stargel’s bill would have allowed courts to reduce alimony payments if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” That could mean the unemployment of the person paying, or the person being paid reaching the age to receive full Social Security benefits.

Still, no matter what lawmakers propose, there’s sure to be “a ton of people in opposition” on either side, she said.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.


12 comments

  • Alimony Crisis is Looming!

    April 19, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I am so appreciative of everything Senator Stargel and Representative Burton did to bring SB668 to the Governor. We have a crisis forming with baby boomers retiring. Some payers are having to withdraw money from their retirement accounts to continue paying the full permanent alimony amount while the recipients are getting a bonus by also receiving Social Security benefits. I hope Stargel and Burton will reconsider and help us bring forward alimony reform because it is so needed. By the way, there was no “hollering” in the Governor’s office during the rally. This has been grossly exaggerated by the press.

    • JimRosicaFL

      April 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      “…there was no “hollering” in the Governor’s office during the rally. This has been grossly exaggerated by the press.”
      As the reporter who was at this event, this statement is incorrect. There was shouting by both sides.
      Otherwise, thank you for reading and for commenting.

      • Jennifer

        April 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm

        Actually it was pretty much one sided by those who want this bill. I was there. We have videos of the ENTIRE FIASCO. Want to go there?

        • JimRosicaFL

          April 19, 2016 at 9:29 pm

          I took video too. And I’ll agree with that. Just not with an assertion that there was “no hollering in the Governor’s Office.”

  • Chuck Reinertsen

    April 19, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Thank You Sen. Stargel for bringing Florida’s “Family” laws more into the open. Current family laws in Florida help to destroy our families. Children are kept from their dads except for every other weekend and one evening a week, when over 100 studies show children do best if they spend approximately a third of the time with each parent. Permanent alimony is sending the wrong message and teaching the wrong lesson. Florida’s No-Fault Divorce eliminates any blame for the divorce. If there is no blame, why does one spouse have to support the other for the rest of their life? Permanent alimony recipients will not go back to work or re-marry. They risk losing their precious monthly alimony check. Until the recipient, either men or women, have an incentive to move on with their lives, they will remain dependent on the alimony. What happens if the alimony payer dies? Does the alimony recipient become destitute, or do they move on with their lives. Just like widows and widowers must move on, so must alimony recipients. Most alimony recipients are healthy, physically able and intelligent enough for employment, a career or re-marriage. Until there is a necessity to move on, they’ll keep living off the workers. This is a worker/non-worker issue, not a man/woman issue. Gov. Scott, who were you talking to when you said “Let’s get to work.”? Obviously, it wasn’t permanent alimony recipients. Thank you again Sen. Stargel, and I hope you’ll consider sponsoring another bill soon, like next year! Thanks Again!

    • Robert Sell

      April 20, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Rick Scott is a gutless fraud from beginning to end. Many wonder why he isn’t in prison.

    • Janelle

      April 21, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Most that are on permanent alimony also have to get a life insurance policy to pay off the spouse. So if that person does die the money just keeps coming. If the person is in a second marriage with children the wife will have to Pay the ex wife out of the life insurance policy. True story.

  • Cupcake

    April 19, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Stargel had no idea what was in her own bill. Watching her at committee hearings was torture trying to find words that made sense. She needs to stop pandering and being a men’s rights sock puppet. Stick up for women and children once in a while.

    • Chuck Reinertsen

      April 20, 2016 at 8:27 am

      Hi Cupcake. If you want credibility, please post your name. It’s easy to make comments and hide. If you believe in what you are saying, there would be no shame in posting your name. The Golden Rule applies to alimony and child sharing. Do you believe in it? (The golden rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s NOT, “The people with the gold make the rules”)

  • Robert Sell

    April 20, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Florida’s permanent alimony laws were challenged in federal court about 10 years ago as being in violation of federal laws but the Florida constitution as well. In a ruling without prejudice, the court ruled that Florida’s alimony laws were part of the state’s “police powers”.
    This ruling is so inane as to be laughable. Where does the constitution give a state the right to violate a person’s civil, human, and constitutional rights in the name of a “police power”? This just shows you how deep and how far the social fascists are willing to go to protect their extreme beliefs.

    • Adam C

      April 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Robert can you provide me more info about the cases which was challenging the alimony laws in the federal courts?

  • John Reed

    April 20, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    This bill was atrocious at best. I’m proud of the governor as it needed to be vetoed. If you didn’t want a Christian man in office you shouldn’t have voted him in. He vetoed the first bill letting the state of Florida know that he wasn’t going to put his name on a bill that could destroy more families. Now you’re mad? You represent the few. There are no big groups behind you except for a few shady entities. TBA, TFS, NOW, LWV, almost every Florida news outlet, and many family judges who took the time to read the bill said ‘NO’! Stop threatening women as that isn’t going to get you anywhere, yes I read your FB page. You think those women act entitled? No. How about passing an alimony bill that affects NEW marriages only and have a task force on the custody issue? Oh wait. That wouldn’t get you out of your responsibility. Traditional families are the heartbeat of America. If every stay-at-home mother was to reenter the workplace right now, we would have a job crisis. In fact, America would run much better if every family were to have s stay at home parent. More jobs that pay higher. But you’re stuck on vengeance. I hope you’re not teaching your children that it’s right to bully girls.

Comments are closed.


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