WFSU News Team
Fri April 26, 2013
Alimony Reform Opponents Demand Governor Scott Veto Reform Bill
An alimony reform measure that made it through the legislature is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. But, opponents of the bill seem undeterred in their fight against it; they stormed Rick Scott’s office demanding he veto the bill.
Governor Rick Scott wasn’t in his office on Friday when a group of protesters carrying signs that said things like “alimony hurts families,” showed up and demanded to speak with him. They wanted the Governor to veto an alimony reform bill that was sent to his desk Thursday. Barbara Devane, a lobbyist with the National Organization of Women in Florida, called the bill a cookie cutter solution to a complicated issue.
“Why have judges? Why go before a judge, if it’s already laid out by the legislature? They’ve overstepped their bounds. You need judicial discretion in divorce and alimony and even child custody because you have to take this on a case by case basis,” Devane said.
The bill’s proponents say the measure fixes an inherently unequal system by applying the same type of metrics used in determining who pays child support and how much. It would also allow for the renegotiation of alimony arrangements. But, Maria Gonzalez, a lawyer within the family law section of the Florida Bar, thinks that’s unconstitutional.
“You are violating the parties’ private contract rights. If someone gave up a business interest, for example, in a dissolution of marriage action in lieu of, or they negotiated it for other alimony rights, that’s a contract. A new bill cannot, and should not be permitted to undo contact rights between parties,” Gonzalez said.
The bill also includes a provision that deals with child custody. It makes it so that parents have to share custody equally unless otherwise determined, in the past that decision was totally left up to the judiciary. Proponents say it’ll ensure that both parents get to spend time with their children. But, Simone Kay, a 22 year old Florida State student, said she knows from personal experience, that’s not always in the child’s best interest.
“Generally forcing children to spend 50/50 time split would cause them to have to shuffle back and for the between parent’s homes more frequently than usual, which can upset grades, it can upset activities, it can upset even their mental stability and health,” Kay stated.
Although the protesters didn’t get to speak to the Governor, they did get to leave a message with his secretary. But, Governor Scott is still expected to either sign the bill into law or let it become law without his signature.