• Alimony reform bill heading to Gov. Scott's desk


    CENTRAL FLORIDA - A bill that would do away with permanent alimony in Florida is headed to the governor's desk.

    It's the first time alimony reform has come this close to becoming law.

    Critics believe stay-at-home moms will be hardest hit by the changes.

    Sheila Klapper Barrett of Maitland said she can't imagine what would have happened if the current alimony bill headed for the governor's desk was the law when she got divorced.

    She was 53 years old, didn't work and was the primary caretaker of her two disabled children.

    "I had not worked outside the home. We would have been in poverty," Barrett said.

    The bill makes it harder to get alimony in marriages that last only 11 years or less and could allow the courts to reverse alimony in some already settled cases.

    Opponents argue stay-at-home mothers will get the brunt of the blow if the proposed alimony reform goes through.

    "She will be required to essentially reinvent herself somehow, someway, which we all know in this economy would be virtually impossible," attorney Andrew Chmelir said.

    Supporters said judges have simply had too much leeway and the changes will give predictability to families about to be torn apart by divorce.

    Alan Frisher with Florida Alimony Reform said the current laws are archaic.

    "They do not work for current economic conditions, so they have to be changed," Frisher said.

    It's not clear whether the governor will sign off on the controversial bill, but it passed through the Legislature with flying colors.

    Women like Barrett are afraid of the possible consequences.

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