Ann Dwyer married the love of her life, stayed at home to raise their two children and still lives in the house they built decades ago.
But the 68-year-old might have to leave that home if a move underway in the state Legislature to revamp alimony payments becomes law. Florida would be one of a handful of states to bar permanent alimony if the measure is approved by the House, which passed a similar bill last year, and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.
The Florida Senate approved the bill by a 28-12 vote Thursday, after a contentious debate with supporters saying it would provide certainty and fairness. Critics said the proposal tips the balance toward those who pay alimony and will harm mainly women and children.
The bill (SB 718, HB 231) would do away with permanent alimony for spouses in long-term marriages like Dwyer, whose husband divorced her after 22 years. It would also make alimony harder to get for people married for a decade or less and would generally bar alimony from lasting longer than half the length of the marriage.
It also sets a formula for alimony payments based on the income of the payer and the length of the marriage and gives ex-spouses the ability to end or reduce alimony payments after retirement. Judges now responsible for determining the amount of alimony would have discretion only in “special circumstances.”
Dwyer said she and her ex-husband jointly decided that she should be a stay-at-home mom. After her divorce at age 43, Dwyer said she went back to school and got a job working in an accountant’s office.