Kelli Stargel meets with Rick Scott on alimony bill - Florida Politics

Kelli Stargel meets with Rick Scott on alimony bill

State Sen. Kelli Stargel on Monday said Governor Rick Scott now has “all the information he needs” on her bill to overhaul the state’s alimony system.

The measure (SB 668) was the final bill of the 2016 Legislative Session to be sent to Scott for review. It was delivered to his office after Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, briefly met with Scott in Tampa.

The governor was in town for the opening of the U.S. headquarters of Granex, a marble and granite distributor.

His daily schedule shows they met for 15 minutes, from 7:45 to 8 a.m. The bill was sent to the governor’s office about three hours later.

“Now we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” Stargel said.

She added that the governor “did not give any indication of which way he was leaning.”

The bill passed the Senate 24-14 this Session, then was approved by the House 74-38. Among other things, the bill changes the way Florida judges can award spousal support with an eye to get rid of what critics call “forever alimony.”

For example, it allows courts to modify alimony payments if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” That could mean the unemployment of the person paying or the person being paid reaching the age to receive full Social Security benefits.

For years, former spouses – mostly men – have said permanent alimony isn’t fair to them. Their exes, usually women, have fought back, saying they shouldn’t be penalized for having trouble re-entering the workforce after staying home for years to raise children.

The legislation also creates a legal “premise” for child custody plans that children spend equal time with each parent.

Lawmakers have tried for several years to change the way Florida’s courts award alimony.

In 2013, Scott vetoed another attempt to modify alimony law “because it applies retroactively and thus tampers with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce.”

In his veto letter, the governor added that the “retroactive adjustment of alimony could result in unfair, unanticipated results.”

This year, House Democrats tried but failed to tack on a last-minute amendment to ensure the bill can’t be applied retroactively to old divorce judgments.

The House sponsor, Republican state Rep. Colleen Burton of Lakeland, said the bill was not retroactive; Democratic critics say the bill’s language is “unclear” at best.

Scott has until April 19 to act on the bill.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

22 Comments

  1. As a woman, I support SB668. Current law is outdated and bad law. A premise that 2 parents are equal when their relationship ends is in the best interest of their children. There is still room in the law for the Judge’s discretion. Alimony law is woefully out of date with our times. Women are no longer at the mercy of their husbands or society. Permanent Alimony is a cruel and unreasonable punishment to a person simply because they worked hard but had their marriage fail. Please sign SB668.

  2. Great bill for Florida families and children. Times have changed. The majority of the legislators and people have spoken we want this bill to become law.
    #governorscott

  3. The House and Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming 2/3 majority after hearing much public testimony. Now it’s time for Governor Scott to SIGN SB 668 to reform the current antiquated family laws. It’s a good bill for all Floridians.

  4. Tens of thousands of women in Florida SUPPORT SB668 because it brings fairness to the divorce process. Forever alimony never allows a divorce to ever be final, it prevents families from healing after a divorce, and from moving on to a new life. The majority of states in this country either have never had permanent alimony, have already reformed their laws, or are in the process of reforming outdated 1950s society laws.

  5. Veto SB668. Those supporting it are part of a huge hate group as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center; MRA’s. This bill will only serve to aid the higher wage earner, leaving the lower wage earner out in the cold living in poverty. This bill serves to erase moms from children’s lives. One need only look at highly publicized, highly contested custody cases to see that this is the real agenda – the extermination of mom. It was done in the Darren Mack case for example. He had 50/50 time sharing and that was not good enough for him, because the judge ruled for 50/50 yet still maintained the financial support for the child while at the mothers house. Where is this mother now? Dead and buried in a grave, and the judge in this case was almost there as well. It raises the bar to prove abuse especially in light of the 40+ bias studies done over the last decade which has proven bias against women, not men. Biases in the form of holding women to higher standards than men, bias in the form of not believing allegations of abuse, and bias in the form of giving make support payers more latitude and leeway in the payments made than those given to women.

    1. This is obviously a family bar attorney !!! There is no excuse not to sign this bill. We in Florida are the laughing stock of the country! Numerous well documented studies show 50/50 with children is critical to there being productive later in life. Having said that , I honestly believe it will get vetoed. The family bar has to much money and power! They dictate everything in Florida family law! Only about 40 percent of the country has awakened to the politicians !! After all they have done to us both federal and state people still elect them. Money controls all in our state and most others. Look at the uber bill that was never even sent for a vote despite overwhelming support, it’s the same thing. Politicians listen to the money regardless of how it destroys people’s lives.

    2. I’m very concerned about the reply from someone called “The Watcher”. Why is this person not willing to state their name? Everyone else is taking responsibility for their statements but not this person. Why choose the language “Extermination of mom”? Does this person view mothers as defenseless, mindless insects? And then makes the case that divorced men murder their ex-wives. This is the same extreme insanity that tries to say that all black men are criminals, and all gay men are pedophiles. I can see why this extreme, agenda driven insanity doesn’t want to be responsible for this hate speech. It has no place in today’s society. Women are fighting for an equal place in society. This bill is a big step forward.

  6. Veto SB 668! This bill is retroactive. Just because they took the word out doesn’t mean it’s not retroactive.

  7. Governor,
    Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. —Harry S. Truman

    1. VETO SB668!! Don’t listen to the majority of the ones that post here. They have their own agendas at heart. Greedy second wives that don’t believe a man should take care of his children and his ex wife after years of marriage. A marriage where people took vows and made promises to each other. Then they arranged their lives to fit their needs. If Mom didn’t work there was a reason and it’s not because as these people would tell u she’s a leach or parasite. That’s what they believe. Did u grow up with Mom at home? Do u think her life is worth nothing? That’s what they want u to do by voting for this BAD law. They r telling u your Mom doesn’t matter. Her life didn’t matter. It’s all about them and their greed and selfishness. They don’t want to pay child support. These people in real life fight their exs constantly over having to support their children. They threaten innocent women and children who dare to speak against them. I’ve been witness to their corrupt actions. I’ve also been their victim when I dared to speak out. They tried to buy Governor Scotts vote. Let Scott know we won’t be duped by any HATE group. Call and tell him VETO!

      1. This bill is not about child support it is about alimony. Many payors have grown children. Alimony is for the ex who should have enough time to learn a new job and become independent or did they marry because they wanted their spouse to take care of them financially for the rest of their lives? Grow up and show your children what responsibility is about!

  8. I support SB668. It is about time. “Forever” alimony is unfair. We have been paying for over 12 years. My husband is 63 years old. It is such a hardship to support an ex that has a full time job and has never spent a dime on the children who are in college. We live pay check to pay check while she is shops and goes on vacations. We pay her mortgage so the kids have a roof over there heads. Otherwise they would be evicted every month. We pay for our children’s car, insurance, phone and tuition. She has never bought the children clothes, food or gas. Permanent alimony hurts CHILDREN too.

  9. When friends find out you have permanent alimony they can’t believe it, they think you had a bad lawyer, but in FLA it is the law that must be changed. We are not indentured slaves who made a mistake with a relationship that went bad. It is high time for alimony reform. Gov Rick Scott knows it, but will he be brave enough to stand up to his critics (lawyers)?

  10. I greatly support SB668. I am 70 years old and still working many hours to pay alimony. I am self employed, my health is failing and at times have had to take out loans to make my alimony payments. My ex retired ten years ago, lives a live of leisure and travels with her old boyfriend. She has no motivation to remarry and lose her large monthly supplement and I will not remarry because I would never want to put a person under the strain and hardship that I have to live. I know others that are in my situation who will have to work until death. I did not publish my last name to protect my families privacy but Gov. Scott knows it.

    1. Your story is the EXACT reason why this bill needs to be signed. It’s time to stop the gravy train. It’s time for parents to work collaboratively together to raise their children. SB 668 is a good bill. It’s not perfect. Neither side is 100% happy with it which is how you know it is fair and reasonable. Sign the bill Gov Scott.

  11. I support SB668. There has been enough pain brought on by the old outdated alimony laws. Time for change and this bill is a great beginning!

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