From Fort Lauderdale to Boca Raton and across Florida, family law attorneys and divorce lawyers watched with keen interest this week as the Florida Legislature passed sweeping changes to the state's long-standing laws affecting lifetime or permanent alimony. All the bills needed were Florida Gov. Rick Scott's signature. Gov. Scott vetoed this week the highly controversial alimony reform bill that would have resulted in dramatic changes to long-established family law statutes and practices.
As of the writing of this blog, a move apparently was afoot to change the bill's language and attach it to other legislation before the Legislative session ends May 3. That result remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, both the Florida House and Senate in April passed the sweeping changes to alimony, replacing existing law with bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, or durational alimony. The bills if approved by the Governor would have allowed retroactive application of the new alimony laws, which many believe was anti-women and unconstitutional.
The legislation also would have provided that equal timesharing was presumptively in the best interest of the children.
Ultimately, in his letter of veto to the Senate, Gov. Scott sided with those questioning the retroactive implication. He wrote that "retroactive adjustment of alimony could result in unfair, unanticipated results. Current Florida law already provides for the adjustment of alimony under the proper circumstances."
Supporters of the bill likely will continue the fight. In the meantime, both parties in a divorce case now must continue on as they always should have: protecting their own rights and futures, while ensuring that the needs of any children are kept foremost in mind.