FORT MYERS — A debate over alimony has people all over the state, and across the country, weighing in.
A new bill in the Florida Legislature would ban permanent alimony, something many states have done already.
When judges hear divorce cases, they have to consider the question of how much one partner will pay the other after the split, and for how long. In a small percentage of cases, the judge chooses to make those payments last forever.
After Christoph Leibrecht and his wife split, he said the judge's ruling was devastating.
“What they want is $10,300 per month, permanent alimony," said Leibrecht.
It’s a cost Leibrecht said he had no way of paying. He said he drained his $2 million inheritance, but it wasn’t enough.
“The lawyer needs $55,000, you have a $55,000 perch, so they took my house," said Leibrecht.
Leibrecht said he even spent 12 days in jail for not being able to pay. Now he lives in Maine, where he hopes lawyers won’t come after him.
"This whole process literally did bring me to the brink of suicide," said Leibrecht.
Senate Bill 1922 would not only make permanent alimony illegal, it would also cancel Leibrecht’s payments retroactively.
But we also spoke with Jan Killilea, who said permanent alimony actually saved her after her divorce.
"I was married 25 years, and gave up a career to raise a family in a traditional marriage," said Killilea.
Killilea started a website called equityanddignity.com, advocating for women like herself. She doesn’t want the bill to take away the payments that helped her rebuild her life.
"I know how difficult it is to reinvent yourself at 50-years-old with a 25-year-old resume," said Killilea.
The bill has actually been through the Legislature before, and it was even vetoed by then Governor Rick Scott. Right now, it’s being heard in the Rules Committee.