Florida Governor Rick Scott recently vetoed a controversial
alimony reform bill (SB 668) after claiming that the legislation could potentially end up
prioritizing the wants of parents over the best interests of children.
The Bill passed the Senate 24-14 and later cleared the House on a 74-38
vote before being struck down on April 15, 2016.
The Bill proposed the following main changes:
- Children should spend equal time with each parent
- The reduction of alimony payments with a “substantial change in circumstances”
This bill was the final bill of the 2016 legislative session and the last
one sent to the governor. Although he commended the sponsors of the bill
for their efforts to overhaul Florida’s
alimony laws, Scott disagreed that the legislation would be an improvement over
Florida’s current system. Currently, judges make parenting plan
determinations based on the best interests of the child. According to
Scott, the bill could potentially upend this standard by placing more
weight on the wants of a parent by creating a promise of equal time-sharing
– a situation which may not be ideal in all cases.
The governor believes that, because divorce affects families in different
ways, each family law issue must be dealt separately rather than lumping
them all together. “Family law issues are very personal, and nearly
every family comes to the court with different circumstances and needs,”
he declared in his veto letter. “As such, we must be judicious and
carefully consider the long term and real life repercussions on Florida
Scott met with representatives of the Florida National Organization for
Women, the League of Women Voters of Florida, and other groups who felt
that the bill was wrong for Florida. Even the Family Law Section of The
Florida Bar, who initially backed the bill, lobbied heavily for a veto.
Proponents of the bill, however, argue that Scott provided no reason for
how the new legislation would have resulted in the detrimental outcomes
he predicted in his veto. They have stated that the new law would not
have changed the responsibility of judges to make decisions based on the
best interests of the child, stating that they would still be bound to
the 20 factors listed in current law.
Have questions about child custody or alimony in Florida? Contact a Jacksonville
family law attorney at Owenby Law, P.A. We’ve been putting families
first for over a decade.
free initial consultation when you call (904) 770-3141.