Governor Scott vetoes alimony bill over child custody clause

If you're going through a divorce in Florida, you may have heard that new alimony reforms were in the works. Recently, Governor Rick Scott stopped those changes, because the child custody clause in the same proposal was unacceptable.

This is the second time in three years that the governor has put a stop to these changes due to issues with wording and riders. Had he allowed them, the proposal would have made a formula based on the length of your marriage and your combined incomes. At that point, the judges would use this formula to determine alimony payments for the spouse in need.

This proposal would have eliminated permanent alimony, which some people were not pleased about, but others agreed because judges still had the ability to make decisions differing from the formula for unusual circumstances.

The alimony reform was not the issue in this case; the child custody component was. In the proposal, judges would have now had to start with the premise that children would spend time with each parent equally. That could potentially be harmful to children and put their parents' requests ahead of their own, which is why the governor did not want to approve it.

The governor argued that the needs of a child must come before all else in a divorce, and judges have the right and ability to determine fair parenting schedules, which is required by Florida law. By altering that arrangement, children could be put in situations where they are not settling in with either parent, sharing time 50/50, which may not be in their best interests.

Source: Palm Beach Post, "Scott scuttles Florida alimony overhaul, citing child custody clause," April 15, 2016

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