In an unexpected turn of events, Florida Governor Rick Scott has vetoed Senate Bill 718, which envisioned broad-ranging changes to Florida alimony and child custody laws. If signed, the bill would have created a presumption in favor of 50/50 child custody, eliminated permanent alimony, and permitted (in certain circumstances) those who had already been ordered to pay alimony to seek a modification based on the new law.
Governor Scott’s veto letter reads, in part:
Because the subject matter of this bill involves family relationships, numerous Floridians have forcefully expressed their views on the topic. Many Florida families have been impacted by the difficulties of marital issues, both concerning children and starting over. As a husband, father and grandfather, I understand the vital importance of family. In weighing the issues associated with this bill, however, I have concluded that I cannot support this legislation because it applies retroactively and thus tampers with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce.
The retroactive adjustment of alimony could result in unfair, unanticipated results. Current Florida law already provides for the adjustment of alimony under proper circumstances. The law also ensures that spouses who have sacrificed their careers to raise a family do not suffer financial catastrophe upon divorce, and that the lower earning spouse and stay-at-home parent will not be financially punished. Floridians have relied on this system post-divorce and planned their lives accordingly.
Though this probably ends the debate for the 2013 legislative session, alimony and child custody reform will likely be a hot topic for years to come.
The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover encourages the use of the interdisciplinary collaborative divorce process when handling issues of alimony and child custody.