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Governor once again says no to alimony reform

Back in March, our blog discussed how Florida was once again on the cusp of major changes in the area of family law -- particularly in relation to both alimony and child custody -- thanks to a rather progressive piece of legislation sitting on the desk of Governor Rick Scott.

However, in a move that has sparked significant criticism, the governor vetoed the legislation back on April 15, marking the second time in three years that he has defeated a contentious alimony measure sent to him by the legislature.

To recap, Senate Bill 668 called for the elimination of permanent alimony, and the introduction of a new formula for judges to use in calculating alimony that relied upon factors like the combined incomes of the spouses and the length of the marriage. As for child custody, it boldly called for judges to start with the premise that children should divide their time evenly with both parents

According to Governor Scott, his primary reason for vetoing SB 668 was its inclusion of this shared-parenting provision, which, he argued, would allow the wishes of parents to supplant the needs of children, something that ran counter to the state's longstanding policy.

"This bill has the potential to upend 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," wrote Scott in a letter accompanying his vet. "Our judges must consider each family’s unique situation and abilities and put the best interests of the child above all else."

The veto was met with praise by groups like the League of Women Voters of Florida, the National Organization for Women and even the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, which supported only the alimony portion of the bill.

Nevertheless, there were a considerable number of people left embittered by the decision, as evidenced by the nearly 10,000 messages left for the governor asking him to sign the bill into law.

Despite this most recent setback, however, many of these parties, including lawmakers, have vowed to continue their efforts to pursue meaningful family law reform.

Stay tuned for updates …

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions or concerns relating to alimony, child custody or other divorce-related issues.

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