A reform bill that would have restructured alimony and child custody in Florida was recently vetoed by the governor. The bill, and the issues it was seeking to address, has been controversial. The governor cited concerns that the bill would alter how child custody decisions are made. Specifically, concerns that the new law would require judges to presume, though legal presumptions are oftentimes rebuttable, that equal time sharing between parents was best before evaluating other considerations, led him to veto the bill.
Currently, what is in the child’s best interests is the primary consideration when child custody and parenting agreements are made. The governor cited concerns that the bill might place the interests of the parents above the interests of the children. He further noted that judges should consider each family’s unique circumstances and always place the best interest of the child above any other considerations.
The bill also would have ended permanent alimony and created a system for determining alimony based on the length of the marriage and disparity of income between the parties, as well as other factors. The bill drew passionate advocates on each side. One of the concerns for those opposing the bill was a cookie-cutter approach to the unique needs of each divorce. One lawmaker noted that the governor’s message was that family law and divorce issues should be addressed separately rather than being lumped together. Other lawmakers did not agree with that assessment.
The divorce process is commonly able to bring about strong emotions that can result in tensions and disputes. It can be helpful for parties involved in the divorce process to understand current family law, which can change from time to time, to be fully prepared for what to expect.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Scott vetoes divorce bill over custody concerns,” Gray Rohrer, April 25, 2016