Florida Senate Bill 668 has been vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. The proposed bill would have made several needed reforms to alimony and parenting time. More specifically, the bill created an assumption that mothers and fathers should have equal time-sharing with their children after divorce, unless evidence is submitted otherwise.
Custody and visitation rights in a Florida divorce have always been decided based upon what is in the best interests of the child. However, SB 668 sought to establish that Florida judges should approach parenting time with the presumption that approximately equal time with each parent is in the best interest of the child. Further, if a judge determines that the parents should not have equal parenting time, he or she must submit written findings of fact to justify the decision.
According to the Miami Herald, Scott’s office received more than 11,000 telephone calls and emails, with those supporting the bill ahead by a 4 to 1 margin. Scott’s message accompanying the veto took on a personal note.
“As a husband, father and grandfather, I understand the importance of family and the sensitivity and passion that comes with the subject of family law,” Scott’s veto message said. “As such, we should be judicious and carefully consider the long-term and real-life repercussions on Florida families.”
More specifically, Scott claims the provision requiring Florida judges to begin the custody proceedings with the assumption that both parents are entitled to approximately equal parenting time troubled him. He felt the bill was placing the parent’s wants before the best interests of the child.
Scott’s veto of the bill comes as a surprise to many since it had significant support in the Florida Legislature. In fact, it passed the House 74 to 38.
The Miami Herald reports that Troy Matson, a member of the National Parents Organization and a supporter of the bill, said the drive for change will go on.
Although Governor Scott didn’t specifically address the other controversial aspects of SB 668, including ending permanent alimony after the payor’s retirement and a change in payments based upon the couple’s length of marriage, it is anticipated that next year the issues will be separated rather than lumping them together in one bill.
If you are facing divorce or you have other family law needs, our legal team is here to help. Contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm to schedule a consultation with a caring professional, and aggressive advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child timesharing (custody), and paternity matters.