Many Florida residents are aware that legislators have been debating multiple changes to the manner in which family law is handled within the state. Specifically, a bill that would change both alimony and child custody law has been making its way through the legislative process, and was recently presented to Florida Governor Rick Scott. That bill was vetoed by Scott, which marks the second time he has stopped legislation centered on these issues over the past three years. The move has led to continued debate on the issue, with strong opinions on both sides.
The child custody aspect of the bill would have required family court judges to approach all child custody cases with the premise that parents should divide parenting time and responsibility evenly. That is the portion of the legislation that led Scott to veto the entire bill. In his written explanation of the veto, Scott stated that the change would lead judges to deviate from the current child custody approach, which is to place the best interests of the child ahead of any other considerations, including the rights of each parent.
Scott pointed out that thousands of Florida residents have reached out to weigh in on the issue. That reaction is indicative of the fact that each and every Florida divorce is different. Many parents feel that family court judges should be able to weigh each and every child custody matter on its own merits, and not from a position of a mathematical formula for shared custody.
For those who supported the alimony portions of the bill, the veto comes as a disappointment. The proposed legislation would have provided Florida judges with a formula for determining alimony payments, and would have also ended permanent alimony. In future legislative efforts, it is believed that the issues of alimony and child custody will be addressed in separate bills, so as to avoid a similar outcome.
Source: palmbeachpost.com, “Scott vetoes overhaul of Florida alimony, child custody laws”, Dara Kam, April 15, 2016