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Gov. Scott Vetoes Bill Ending Permanent Alimony After Fierce Backlash

| May 1, 2013



May 5 Update–Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the permanent-alimony bill.

“Because the subject matter of this bill involves family relationships, numerous Floridians have forcefully expressed their views on the topic,” Scott wrote in a letter to Lawmakers Wednesday (May 1). “Many Florida families have been impacted by the difficulties of marital issues, both concerning children and starting over. As a husband, father and grandfather, I understand the vital importance of family. In weighing the issues associated with this bill, however, I have concluded that I cannot support this legislation because it applies retroactively and thus tampers with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce.”

The Legislature may still override the veto: the bill passed the Senate on a 29-11 vote and the House by an 85-31 vote. But with just two days left in the session, it is unlikely that the House and Senate will take action on the bill.

The April 23rd Story:

Bill Ending Permanent Alimony Triggers War of the Roses as Scott Mulls Signing

The debate over a bill that bans permanent alimony isn’t over — it’s just shifting, with the bill now headed to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

The measure (SB 718) has passed in the House and Senate and went to the governor on Tuesday, with thousands of Floridians urging Scott to sign or veto it.

The bill also limits alimony payments based on income and the length of marriage.

The sponsors, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, called on Scott to sign it quickly.

“He’s never indicated he’s had a concern about it,” Workman said at a press conference Tuesday. “So this isn’t about a concern. This is about encouraging him to do it right away. Let’s get this law on the books as soon as possible.”

“It’s going to be good for families to have that consistency, where they’re not going to be litigating for years and years and years to the point that nobody has any money except for the attorneys,” Stargel said.

As the measure marched to passage, lawmakers heard painful tales of ex-spouses who have suffered financially due to either too much alimony or not enough. Workman brandished a binder he said was full of such horror stories supporting the measure.

Opponents – including the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar – say the bill is unfair to those who have been out of the workforce for years to raise children, predominantly women.

“Last year there were billboards up in Tallahassee that said ‘Don’t Get Divorced in Florida,'” said Carin Porras, chair of the Family Law Section. “If this legislation is signed, they’ll all be flocking here for divorces.”

Scott’s poll numbers have been underwater with women. According to survey results released last month by Quinnipiac University, 32 percent of women approved of his job performance and 51 percent disapproved, with 17 percent saying they were unsure.

Workman insisted his bill is family-friendly.

“If he needs the women’s vote, this is not the bill to veto,” Workman said of Scott.

Porras said one aspect of the bill that troubled her was the addition of a provision giving equal time with children to both parents. Currently the law requires that if the parents can’t agree, the judge will decide what is in the best interests of the child after considering a number of factors.

“So this (bill) appears to be saying it’s really not about what’s in the best interests of the child,” Porras said. “It’s presuming all children are the same. It’s a cookie-cutter approach.”

Scott said Tuesday he’s still reviewing the bill, noting that Saturday had been his 41st wedding anniversary.

“I like being married,” he said.

Scott has seven days to decide on the bill.

–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida

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17 Responses for “Gov. Scott Vetoes Bill Ending Permanent Alimony After Fierce Backlash”

  1. “Last year there were billboards up in Tallahassee that said ‘Don’t Get Divorced in Florida,’” said Carin Porras, chair of the Family Law Section. “If this legislation is signed, they’ll all be flocking here for divorces.”

    I can assure you Carin Porras that no one will be flocking to Florida to get divorced. The new law is not nearly as reasonable as in Texas. And I have not heard that a migration to Texas is has been underway for divorce.

  2. Carin Porras, with your comment below you are misstating the new law and you need to be called out on it.

    “So this (bill) appears to be saying it’s really not about what’s in the best interests of the child,” Porras said. “It’s presuming all children are the same. It’s a cookie-cutter approach.”

    The law allows parents who want to be equal participants in their children’s lives the opportunity to do so. If a parent doesn’t request equal parenting there is no requirement for it.

    For anyone interested in what the new law does provide for the recent essay from Lori Barkus is a must-read.

  3. Tom Leustek says:

    Governor Scott… congratulations on your 41st wedding anniversary last Saturday. You clearly made agreat great decision 41 years ago, and the same goes for your wife.

    But please consider the consequences that you might have suffered if you had not chosen well. Imagine having to pay for the rest of your life for having made a bad marital decision.

    Ask yourself, will the punishment fit the crime. And rest assured that despite the repeated claims by members of the family law community that lifetime alimony is not “punishment”, it most certainly is. A lifetime of debt for having made a poor decision is a life sentence.

  4. Nancy N. says:

    If Rick Scott wants to cement his reputation as anti-woman and pro-rich guy, he should totally sign this bill. How can anyone argue with a straight face this bill is pro-woman? Workman needs his head examined. The only way this bill is “pro-woman” is that it leaves more of the guy’s money for the 2nd wife to spend while the first wife that sacrificed her best working years to raise the guy’s kids is left destitute.

    • johnny taxpayer says:

      The bill doesn’t end alimony, it ends permanent alimony, which brings Florida in line with just about every other state in the union. There is no reason a spouse should have to continue to support their ex-spouse, 15 or 20 years after they divorced. A reasonable period of alimony support is certainly warranted, especially in the case of a long term marriage where one spouse gave up significant working years to raise kids, but permanent alimony is unfair to both parties.

    • Independent Woman says:

      Nancy, It’s shameful to me that in this day and time there are women out there still depending on and counting on men to take care of them. Yes, I stayed at home to raise my children, but I also attended college whenever I could and got my undergraduate degree so that I could always support myself and my family. I never want to be dependent on anyone for my financial happiness nor do I want to be married to someone who is dependent on me for their financial happiness. I am certainly not a feminist and this is not why I feel this way. This is a basic issue of taking care of and being responsible for yourself! Maybe that’s why some of these women become the “first wife”…the husband finds a women who doesn’t see it as her “right” to be taken care of. And yes, married for over 33 years!

      • Nancy N. says:

        I’ve been married twenty years, have a college degree, and am currently the family’s major breadwinner through my business I own. I’m also, while running a business with international reach, raising a 9 year old with a disability and a serious illness.

        Yet I know many of my college educated friends who have, in partnership with their husbands, made the decision to stay home with their children full time. Not because they believe they should be taken care of but because they and their husbands believe that is what is best for their children, and they have made the decision together that the woman will devote herself to the children’s welfare. Some of these women are even homeschooling their kids, which cannot be done without a full-time parent at home.

        Meanwhile, they are sacrificing years of building a resume, of building a retirement, of working toward advancement in their field. Because they trust the covenant they made with their husband dividing responsibilities for the family. And because they value their children and think it is best for them to have them at home.

        But what happens if their spouse breaks that trust and decides to trade them in for a younger model? They could wake up one morning and find themselves starting over in their 50’s or even 60’s, an age that most employers (research proves) consider job applicants unemployable, especially for entry level jobs, with little to no work history on top of the age discrimination they face.

        And what about the women who raised their kids in the era where women were not expected to work, before the feminist revolution? Those women are in their 70’s (and even older) now. Seniors do get divorced, contrary to the popular images of grandma and grandpa going off into the old folks home happily getting dotty together. Those women need protection.

        Oh and “feminist” has become twisted by conservatives to have some sort of evil anti-man connotation, but all of that you described up above about wanting take care of yourself and depend on no one else? That’s feminism. No matter what you want to not call yourself.

        • Samuel Smith says:

          I normally agree with what you post, Nancy, but not with this. I know more often than not it’s the woman in the relationship that makes career sacrifices when raising a child, however a) she’s a consenting adult in the relationship and b) children are a choice. If it were any other way I would agree with you.

          • Nancy N. says:

            While on the one hand I do see that these women are making a choice and taking the risk that comes with that choice (that backfired on me, actually, which is why I am where I am now), on the other hand, they have a defacto contract with their husbands when they make that choice. If you look at it that way…the husband is breaking the contract if he abandons her after making the agreement.

            I also have an issue with the fact that it seems the same faction of people (conservatives Republicans) who are supporting this bill are the same people who don’t treat a woman staying home with their kids as a choice, but as an obligation. And childbearing isn’t considered optional for those women either. So the message to those women is that you must have children, you’re a terrible mother if you don’t stay home with them, but if your husband decides to abandon you…you’re on your own. Your bad.

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree. I was the first wife, stay at home mom for 12yrs became a teacher. Then he met his now wife after our 20th Ann., took 4 years for him to leave me and the kids. She has $, I started dating after the divorce then he took me back to court to stop alimony, even though I still had I sons living with me even though college was in their lives, dumped all debt and a mort that was more than I make as a teacher, and he won. Lives in a million dolor condo, does not help our kids financially or emotionally, I lost the house and am bankrupt, had to move where I could afford to live all because I moved on. I will never recover financially, and my sons(4 of them) know how to treat a woman and own up to their mistakes. My ex did not crush my spirit, only my wallet. He’s the ine who lost more than me, respect about doing the right thing.

  5. Charlie says:

    About freaking time. Ex wives have been milking their spouses for decades. No you don’t deserve it !!!!!

  6. A powerful gorgeous WOMEN says:

    This Bll is absurd. Women, still make about a third less the. Men and are more times then not the primary parent. I.telligent women will all get dildos as children and sex with misogynist men is just a liability. Let tbem all tur. Jomosexual.

  7. Ella says:

    What about the wife who patiently spends her time doing all the 1950’s raising the kids, building a happy home, supporting her husband’s career advances on the promise that when he makes it to a comfortable position that she will have her turn to finish college and build a rewarding career for herself only to find that when it is her turn, too bad. Then, not only is everything the family owns in the control of the husband (making the lions share of the family income), the wife has no resources to rely on and looses everything she spent 10 to 15 years building? Let’s make it fair. Get some legislation that protects the wives and children from this type of situation!

    • johnny taxpayer says:

      Again, this law only eliminates permanent alimony! The wife in your scenario still gets alimony, just not for the rest of her life. Child support is something totally separate.

  8. JL says:

    I do agree with ending permanent alimony. But to ask, are there women still depending on men, yes. For good reasons. I was married to a military guy. I worked everywhere we moved. I tried going to school in some of the states we lived in. But it’s not easy when your spouse is overseas, babysitters fail you, no family around. It was hard enough to work every day with 3 sons. Much less finish getting my degree. Some states charged too much with out of state tuition. The reasons are endless for why I never got my degree. Meanwhile, my ex was furthering his career as we moved every few years in the military. Me? I went no where. And after 22 years of marriage, I left the cheating fool. Did I deserve alimony? Yes. I did. Unfortunately, the creap dragged the divorce out for a couple of years, I ended up spending $18,000 of the temporary alimony I was getting on getting divorced, and had to finally agree to give up the alimony just to get the marriage finalized. There is a lot of unfairness, so don’t go blaming all the women. My ex makes a comfortable six figure income and doesn’t give his sons a dime once they turned 18. DIdn’t help them at all through college. Me? I am still a secretary with no degree and no money to finish my degree. So don’t go thinking all women should be on their own and independent with degrees. Some decide to marry military members, and sometimes a Mom is home for the kids when they’re young. And sometimes it’s hard to find a job when they find out your a military spouse. Their first reaction? Oh, you’ll only be here for a few years. They want someone permanent.
    Until you’ve walked in someone elses shoes, it’s hard to judge.

  9. Jimmy says:

    Alimony, alimony, paying her bills…Living Loving She’s just a woman !!

    Led Zepplin

  10. Ogreagain says:

    it’s pretty simple, make your wife work, or contract with her while she raises the kids, and pay her. but you cannot expect a woman to become under qualified for the work place and you not compensate her.

    over time I think you will see roles reverse, more woman are working while men stay home. pretty soon it will be about palimony

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