Connie Bacher was awarded $1,400 in monthly alimony payments when her 23-year marriage ended in 2009.
At the time, she was living paycheck to paycheck and caring for her two daughters in Key West. But she considers the lifelong payments even more important now, she said.
“If I lose my alimony, I’ll have to cut my health insurance or quit buying my medications,” said Bacher, a bank loan officer who suffers from osteoarthritis in both knees and will likely need surgery later this year. “I don’t know what I’ll do.”
A proposal on its way to the Senate floor could force her to find an additional source of income.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would put an end to permanent alimony payments, and allow the courts to modify existing arrangements between former spouses. The bill would also require judges to give divorced parents equal custody of their children, unless one parent could make a convincing case otherwise.
Proponents of the proposal say it would not end alimony altogether but make it more fair.
“This is something that has been horrible for people for so many years,” said Alan Frisher, co-founder Family Law Reform, a non-profit organization based in Lake County. “People have been stuck paying an order that ties them to their ex-spouse for the rest of their lives, even through retirement.”
But the idea has met fierce opposition from lawyers and people who stand to lose their alimony benefits.