Florida governor vetoes alimony bill
April 19, 2016 5 comments
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
April 19, 2016
Categories: Finances and Divorce