On April 15, 2016, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill which would revise Florida’s alimony and child sharing laws. The Florida Governor quickly made his decision after many supporters and protestors spent time at the capitol in order to make their views known. The bill greatly affected the family law community due to its major changes in alimony calculation and child-sharing guidelines. The majority of the parties were in agreement with the section on alimony but greatly disapproved of the new child time-sharing policy.
The bill (SB 668) would change how alimony is determined, getting rid of bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative, and permanent alimony all together. The new policy would require judges to use a calculation guideline based on the length of a marriage and the income of the parties involved. For marriages lasting less than twenty years, the alimony would be calculated by multiplying the amount of years of the marriage by the difference in the monthly gross income and then by 0.015. For marriages lasting twenty years or longer, alimony would be calculated by the amount of years of the marriage by the difference in the monthly gross income and by 0.020. For the shorter marriages (less than 20 years), the alimony would only last a fourth of the time that the marriage did. For the longer marriages (20 years or more), the alimony would last for three quarters of the length of the marriage.
The bill also contained changes to child time-sharing guidelines. It created a policy that assumed that 50/50 time sharing custody would be best for the child regardless of the circumstances.
Gov. Scott cited in his veto statement “This bill’s proposed revisions to Florida’s alimony and child custody laws have evoked passionate reactions from thousands of Floridians because divorce affects families in many different ways. The one constant, though, is that when a divorce involves a minor child, the needs of the child must come before all others. Current law directs a judge to consider the needs and interests of the children first when determining a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. This bill has the potential to upend that policy in favor of putting the wants of a parent before the child’s best interest by creating a premise of equal time-sharing. Our judges must consider each family’s unique situation and abilities and put the best interests of the child above all else.”
We will see if the alimony and time-sharing issues will return in the upcoming 2017 session.