Florida governor vetoes alimony bill


Florida governor Rick Scott has vetoed legislation which would have ended lifetime alimony in the state.

House Bill 455 – later Senate Bill 668 – would have brought an end to default lifetime alimony (maintenance) awards, which are payable until the receiving party remarries or the paying party dies, although the amount can be modified in limited circumstances. Such awards are made regardless of context and can be payable even if the man’s former wife has set up home with a new partner. Florida is one of only eight US states which impose permanent alimony.

The draft legislation would have also provided more specific guidelines for family court judges and changed the formulae used to calculate alimony, placing greater emphasis on the difference in salaries earned by the former spouses.

Significantly House Bill 455 would also have introduced a presumption in favour of shared parenting when couples split.

The bill, introduced by Representative Colleen Burton and Senator Kelli Stargel, attracted widespread support. The governor’s office received 13,000 calls from members of the public about the bill, with five out of every six calls in favour. Polls indicated 70 per cent of voters in favour and the legislation was passed by both houses of the Florida legislature with significant majorities.

Opponents, meanwhile, included the National Organisation for Women.

When the legislation reached his desk, however, Governor Scott used his power to veto the bill, claiming that the presumption in favour of shared parenting would not be in the best interests of children, a position supported by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association. The latter, however, did express support for alimony reform.

The Governor explained:

“Current law directs a judge to consider the needs and interests of the child first when determining a parent plan. This bill has the potential to up-end that policy in favor of putting the wants of a parent before the child’s best interest by creating a premise of equal time-sharing. Our judges must consider each family’s unique situation and abilities and put the best interests of the child above all else.”

He vetoed similar legislation in 2013.

Photo of the Florida House of Representatives via Wikipedia

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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The Devil's Advocate - April 19, 2016 at 3:41pm

“Presumption in favour of shared parenting when couples split”. Presumption NOT the moral and LEGAL RIGHT. [Good old Strasbourg Accord for England and Wales.]
Seems strange that nations which are “thought of as culturally inferior when balancing rights” such as Brazil and Mexico have the opposite view and also criminalise parental alienation. Which nations are the more mature? But then this is Florida and possibly not the wisest of US States in realizing that 120 Psychological Academes and Medical Institutes now confirm that “shared parenting” (as long as their has proven no criminal conviction of abuse against minors) IS IN A CHILD’S BEST INTEREST.
Who do we trust those who understand children or those who make 6-7 figure income from the Legal fighting in courts????
William and Barbara Wilberforce, Tom Clarkson and John Newton will be turning in their graves to think that although Chattel Slavery is illegal (but sadly due to money…still exists) but Psychological Slavery sitil exists…oh hang on no in England and Wales it is now a criminal offence…but!!!!!!!

Stephen - April 19, 2016 at 7:57pm

Problem is that in Florida the FLS is a corrupt orginization that is all about the MONEY

Furthermore the bill had a premise of equal time but the law still had the same criteria that the judge could use to deviate from equal. In essence both parents walk in equal but the judge can then conclude what is best for the child.

FLS just wants to squeeze families dry

Jose - April 20, 2016 at 2:27am

Is so OBVIOUS that common sense is all gone from our elected leaders.
When a healthy Dentist with an established income stream in the 6figures gets awarded permanent alimony, common sense is Not the rule!
When the ex-spouses have a fixed income and by no means are wealthy, Simple math tells you that is an impossibility to maintain 2 households at the best marital standard of living, after the dissolution of marriage.
If the law awards temporary alimony to an ex-spouse until they can support themselves, how in the world a Judge can award permanent alimony to someone with maximum education and adequate income.
Luke 11:46 “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”
Habakkuk 1:4 “Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.”

Lee Kallet - April 20, 2016 at 5:39pm

It was wrong of the Governor to veto SB 668. It was a fair and equitable bill that was good for all Floridians. Reform efforts will continue. We will not stop in our pursuit to reform the current antiquated laws.

Michael R. Thomas - April 26, 2016 at 11:51pm

I am opposed to Scotts decision on both bills because it is causing abortions to hapen that is not in the best intrests of the children. Male slavery through alimony and excessive child suports is the issue and cause of declining marriage rates also. Children need to begin to be considered a parental asset and required to act accordingly instead of misbehaving street delinquents. Instilling proper morrals is the responsibility of both parents and when profitable suport rates apply visitations rights are abused so a parental right to total joint physical custody is the proper solution and will cut divorce rates drastically as the profit for females is eliminated

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