See today’s article from the Sun Sentinel concerning the failure of alimony reform in the 2017 legislative session.
Politics makes strange bedfellows, as demonstrated by an accord reached by The Florida Bar and alimony reform advocates.
But even though the one-time adversaries reached reconciliation over a controversial alimony overhaul, the proposal is dead for this year’s legislative session.
Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Chairman Rene Garcia said he won’t schedule the bill for a hearing.
“We have more pressing issues that we’re dealing with as it relates to the safety and welfare of children than to tie up the committee with the alimony bill at this time,” Garcia, R-Hialeah, told The News Service of Florida on Thursday.
Twice over the past four years, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed attempts at revamping the state’s alimony laws.
A proposal vetoed last year would have created a formula, based on the length of marriage and the combined incomes of both spouses, for judges to use when setting alimony payments.
After years of disagreement on the issue, alimony reform advocates and The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section supported the proposal, which would have also eliminated permanent alimony while giving judges some discretion to veer from the formula.
But the plan became hotly contested last year when it was amended to include a child-sharing component that would have required judges to begin with a “premise” that children should split their time equally between parents.
The proposed revisions “have evoked passionate reactions from thousands of Floridians because divorce affects families in many different ways,” Scott wrote in a last year’s veto message after people on both sides of the issue clashed outside his office.
Three years earlier, Scott vetoed a rewrite of the alimony laws because it was retroactive, an element that sparked an outcry from older women who had spent their lives as homemakers.
But this year, the Family Law section and alimony reform advocates appeared to reach consensus, agreeing that the issues regarding children should remain separate.
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican who’s sponsoring the legislation this year, said she respects Garcia’s decision.
“There’s still a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation that the public has [about the bill],” she said Thursday. “So we just need to do a better job of educating them ahead of time.”