TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After debating the heartache of divorce and romantics who "still believe in love," lawmakers voted Wednesday to let judges reduce or eliminate alimony when the person receiving it moves in with someone else.
"This bill is more like a country-western song than good legislation," complained Republican state Rep. Nancy Detert after the 68-44 House vote.
Judges generally end alimony when the recipient remarries, but courts in Florida have disagreed about what to do about people who -- in the words of one lawmaker -- "take themselves right up to the line of remarrying" by moving in with someone else.
Some lawmakers argued it didn't make sense that the money might even go to support the person who replaced the old spouse.
"It's a bad enough heartache when someone you love leaves, many times for another person," Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley said. "To be asked to support this ex-mate's new girlfriend or boyfriend, that is really adding insult to injury."
Several members -- almost all women -- said they thought the bill was unfair to women who had given a significant part of their lives to husbands who then walked out on them.
"This is an anti-woman bill," griped Democratic Rep. Eleanor Sobel. "Alimony should be based on what someone has contributed to the marriage."
Most other states have already dealt with this issue. Some have laws ending alimony when the ex-spouse lives with anyone new, and many states authorize judges to end or modify the payments, said Mary Frances Lyle, chairwoman of the alimony committee of the Family Law Assn. of the American Bar Assn.