Florida Governor Rick Scott has rejected proposals for alimony reform by vetoing the much-anticipated bill which also contained changes in the way child custody would be determined.
Legislative Proposal for Alimony Reform
The proposed alimony law contained provisions that would:
- Give courts a clear formula for calculating alimony and its duration, taking into account various factors such as the income of the spouses and the duration of the marriage
- Create a rebuttable presumption that prevents the award of alimony in short-term marriages of less than 2 years
- Create a rule setting the maximum combined award of alimony and child support at not more than 55% of the payer’s net income
- Terminate the alimony award upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the paying party
- Allow the modification of alimony, affecting only the amount of the award but not the duration of the alimony award
Florida alimony laws currently allow courts great latitude in setting the amount of alimony using several factors such as the income of the parties and the duration of the marriage. But the existing setup also allowed permanent alimony which the proposed alimony reform seeks to eliminate. The proposed law also seeks to create consistency in how alimony is determined.
Reason for Veto
Senate Bill 668 also contained other Family Law matters and sought to create a presumption of equal time-sharing between parents. The Governor anchored his veto on this presumption which he believed to be a subversion of the child’s best interests, because it placed the wants of a parent ahead of the child’s best interests. Without the presumption of equal time-sharing, family court judges continue to exercise discretion in making time-sharing or child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child.
This is not the first time that the Governor has vetoed proposed alimony reforms. He vetoed a previous alimony bill in 2013 because it proposed a retroactive application of the new provisions. But alimony reform advocates are not giving up. They plan to pass separate proposals for alimony and time-sharing in the next year.
Alimony is often a hotly contested issue in divorce because of its impact on the future finances of the spouses. If you’re going through a divorce, the advice and assistance of your alimony attorney is crucial.
In Tampa, Florida, the Anton Legal Group Law has over 30 years of divorce experience, helping clients obtain their desired outcomes in many alimony situations. We welcome your call today at (813) 443-5249 to discover how we can help you in your family law situation.