By John Clark
Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, rejected a bill this week that would have eliminated the possibility of permanent alimony for spouses getting a divorce in the Sunshine State, according to a Fox News report.
If Scott had failed to take action on the bill, it would have automatically become law, so the bill’s supporters can fairly pin the blame for the bill’s failure on the governor.
Despite disappointment from the bill’s proponents, only four other states have eliminated permanent alimony, so the passage of the measure was unlikely from the start.
As modern divorce laws continue to evolve, a handful of state legislatures have decided that lifetime alimony awards are unfair, and have thus eliminated the practice.
Of course, these states still allow for hefty maintenance payments, whether they’re given in a lump sum or over the course of several years, but they’ve decided that automatic lifetime payments were no longer fair.
According to sources, the proposed Florida law mirrored elements of divorce rules that were recently passed in other states.
The bill would have set strict limits on both the amount of individual alimony awards and the length of their dispersal. In addition, it would have prevented alimony timetables from lasting longer than 50 percent of the length of the marriage.
Moreover, the bill would have made recovering alimony more difficult in short-term marriages, and, somewhat controversially, it would have required parents to have equal custody of their children under most normal circumstances.
Before vetoing the bill, Scott praised some of the “forward looking elements” of the bill, but he also expressed his belief that alimony “represents an important remedy for our judiciary to use in providing support to families as they adjust to changes in life circumstances.”
Scott also claimed he could not sign the bill “because it applies retroactively and thus tampers with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce.”
Finally, Scott further noted that divorce laws in Florida already allow alimony to be adjusted “under the proper circumstances.”
Interestingly, Scott’s veto undid the work of Florida’s House of Representatives and Senate, both of which passed the measure by strong majorities, as members of both major parties threw their support behind the measure.
And one local divorce attorney predicted that the bill would eventually appear again. “My assumption,” said Jason Marks, a local attorney, “is you haven’t heard the last of it.”