For the second time in the span of three years, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed legislation which would overhaul the state’s alimony and child support laws.
The alimony bill would have eliminated permanent, durational, and rehabilitative alimony creating one type of post-dissolution alimony. The bill would have established a formula for the calculation of alimony payments resulting in a larger payment for marriages over 20 years and, in most cases, no payment for marriages less than 2 years. The duration of alimony payments would also be limited to 25%-75% of the length of the marriage. Alimony payments would be modified if the paying spouse retires, if the receiving spouse has an increase of 10% or greater in their income, or if they enter into a relationship that provides economic support equal to a marriage. In addition to alimony changes, the bill also called for equal time sharing of children after a divorce.
Scott first vetoed the alimony bill in 2013 due to a provision that would allow divorce and child custody agreements to be retroactively impacted.
This time around Scott stated he did not agree with establishing a legal premise that every divorce case should start with a 50/50 equal time sharing agreement. Scott said he believes the best interests of children in divorce cases should come first, before a child sharing schedule is established. In his veto message, Scott wrote, “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.” The alimony bill had passed in the both the Florida Senate (24-14) and House (74-38).
Although Scott has now vetoed alimony legislation twice, it is likely that lawmakers will again attempt to revise the legislation by taking into account Scott’s concerns, and will once again attempt to get their legislation passed.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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