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Following Veto by Governor Scott, New Divorce Reform Legislation Is Likely

Attempts by the Florida legislature to make significant changes to the divorce process have been vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. The bill would have set standardized rules for alimony and created a presumption that children should spend equal time with each parent. As has happened after similar failed attempts in the past, legislators will now begin working to craft new divorce reform legislation that the governor may find less objectionable.

Following a similar veto in 2013 that would have allowed judges to make changes to previous cases, legislators proposed a bill without that provision. The recently vetoed bill, SB 668, would have completely changed the way child custody decisions are made. Instead of focusing on the goal of finding an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children involved, courts would have had to start every case with the presumption that the best interests of each child include spending equal time with each parent. The burden would then be on any parent opposing this presumption to prove that this arrangement would be detrimental to their child or would put their child at risk of harm.

The second major change proposed in the bill concerned alimony arrangements. A standardized system of rules would have been implemented, giving judges little leeway to make adjustments based on the circumstances of the case. Most people in short term marriages would have been ineligible for alimony, and even those who would have trouble supporting themselves would likely see payments end sooner than under current law.

While the legislation may have been flawed, many believe that the existing system is as well. For that reason, lawmakers will likely continue working to get some version of divorce reform signed into law.

To learn more about custody and alimony arrangements under Florida law, contact the St. Petersburg-area family law attorneys at the Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A.

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