In 2016 alimony reform in Florida went down in flames, once again. Passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill was vetoed by the Governor for the second time in two consecutive years. The Florida alimony reform bill has been several years in the making and was the subject of intense lobbying from both sides. Public sentiment turned adverse during the ending months of the process resulting in several rewrites to the bill and an eventual governor’s veto. The bill nearly became law in 2015 and was predicted by most to pass in 2016. This is a significant setback for proponents of the bill.
The defeated bill(s) included both alimony reforms as well as minor child timesharing reforms. The bill contemplated the application of a formula to the determination of both entitlement as well as amount of alimony awards. This formula was then peppered with somewhat unknown considerations of “ability to pay” and “need.” Time-sharing for minor children was to be subject to somewhat of a presumption of equal time-sharing among parents as the beginning point to any judicial analysis.
So, where does alimony reform and timesharing reform go from here? I don’t have a crystal ball but after two consecutive years of defeat, there may be little congressional appetite for an immediate round three. I predict a break in the action for few years. This will allow both sides to regroup, and to potentially become more closely aligned toward a single, less confrontational, position. However, given the very emotional nature of both issues along with the lack of by bipartisanship affecting most state politics, let us not overestimate the various support groups’ ability to reach anything even resembling a consensus. As for now, it is business as usual in the family law courts of the State of Florida.