Both sides of alimony reform putting pressure on Rick Scott - Florida Politics

Both sides of alimony reform putting pressure on Rick Scott

Supporters and opponents of this year’s alimony overhaul bill will make their case at the Capitol on Tuesday.

As Gov. Rick Scott reviews the legislation (SB 668), representatives of the Florida National Organization for Women, the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups plan to meet with his staff at 11 a.m., according to FL-NOW lobbyist Barbara DeVane.

Their goal: To explain “why this dangerous bill is wrong for Florida’s families and deserves his veto,” she said.

At 10 a.m., however, bill proponents will gather on the steps of the Old Capitol facing the courtyard to show their support, said Larry Rutan of Florida Family Law Reform.

“It’s a fair law,” he said. “I don’t see how anybody can complain about it.”

Scott has until next April 19 to act on the measure, the final one sent to him by the Legislature out of the 272 general and local bills it approved this past Session. The bill passed the Senate 24-14, then was adopted by the House 74-38.

Among other things, the bill changes the way Florida judges can award alimony with the intent to eliminate what critics have called “forever alimony.”

For example, the measure allows courts to reduce 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. But judges still have latitude to decide custody questions after a divorce, and can do so even later on.

Still, that provision was what turned the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar against the bill – after they initially backed this year’s model. The section now is lobbying heavily for a veto.

The Governor’s Office logged more than 11,000 emails and telephone messages on the legislation by the end of last week, with supporters leading opponents by about 80 percent. DeVane says she thinks many of those registering support are with men’s rights groups from out of state.

In 2013, Scott vetoed another attempt to modify alimony law because it “tamper(ed) with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce.”

DeVane, who said she’s been divorced four times and never asked for alimony, is now working pro bono to get the governor’s veto.

“I can’t turn it loose,” she said. “I hate this bill. I’m not working for a paycheck; I’m working out of passion.”


Jim Rosica (jim@floridapolitics.com) covers the Florida Legislature, state agencies and courts from Tallahassee. 

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.

29 Comments

  1. Married 4 times and never asked for alimony so why the change of heart Barbara? You feel women shouldn’t have equality? I support SB 668 and it is good for Florida children and families. On another note I am from south Florida and so is my family and friends and we all called the governors office.

  2. SB668 is good for Florida, good for Florida families, and most important, good for Florida’s children.

    It’s time to fix these woefully outdated family court laws once and for all, Governor Scott. Please follow the will of the people and your legislature and sign this excellent bill into law!

  3. Barbara DeVane and NOW do NOT represent the majority of women. Barbara’s only argument when she has spoken in Tally is that “men will leave women for a younger model”. Apparently that is what happened to Barbara in one of her 4 divorces s now she is a full-time man hater. You can hear it in her voice and tone how she hates men. Barbara’s way to payback men is to award women with permanent alimony and to not allow men to have time with the children.. The majority of men are good husbands and good ads. And the majority modern day women believe that alimony should awarded for a period of time when needed but the vast majority to do not believe in that permanent alimony is fair. The vast majority of women and psychologists believe that shared parenting is good for the children. SB 668 eliminates permanent alimony and sets fair guidelines to award alimony. SB 668 allows both parents to share in the lives of their kids.

  4. Let’s get to the root of the issue…equality. Do we want equality or don’t we. If Gov. Scott believes in equality, he will sign the bill. If he doesn’t believe in equality, he will veto the bill. If he’s unsure, he’ll let it become law without his signature. Gov. Scott’s mother, from all accounts, was an amazing woman. Gov. Scott, was she equal to a man? If you believe her to be the equal, then sign SB668 in honor of your mother. How can we expect equality when our laws demand inequality. It makes no sense!!!

  5. We are watching this very closely and it should be known that fathers rights are human rights. Equality is all that’s expected… Nothing less and nothing more. A veto of this bill which passed the senate floor by such wide margin is unacceptable and inexcusable.

    There are very many men, women and children who stand up for constitutional equal parental rights for all. We are millions of citizens who are not going anywhere. In fact our numbers are growing at an unprecedented rate and we are getting stronger & wiser by the minute to the scams of the state and family law injustices.
    We are saying enough is enough.

    A veto of Florida senate bill 668 will send a clear message to the nation of just how easily a state governor can be swayed by bias special interest groups. It will be made very clear to all how paid lawyer lobbyist and those with a vested interest in maintaining the dysfunctional status quo can manipulate the Governor to go against the wishes and rights of the majority of good citizens.

    The people want this corruption from the state no more.
    We demand our inalienable rights to parent our children.
    We demand shared parenting and know it is proven to be in the true best interest of our children.
    We also know it’s not in the best interest of the family law section of the bar association and radicalized feminist groups who appose this bill… That’s our opposition… What a disgrace.

    These people don’t speak for what’s best for our kids anymore, Fit parents equally sharing in raising those kids do. The state can stay out of it for a change.

    Whatever happens with this bill, it is being very closely watched by many more good people than most think. We’re no longer so easily manipulated and bullied. We’re no longer weak.. but we’re strong and we’re here to stay.

    Many have lost everything including their children, assets, freedom, and even their lives. The massive multi billion dollar family law industry is the direct and indirect cause to virtually all of the nations social problems. The real statistics of a fatherless society don’t lie.

    Many have nothing to lose and don’t feel like playing nice anymore with a system that is so untrustworthy and corrupt.
    The status quo is in for a very rude awakening. Times change and we’re watching, so it won’t be so easy to veto this time without public accountability.
    It will not be forgotten.

    We actually outnumber the powers that be and the groups with selfish bias agendas. The opposition to this bill have no valid argument. We’re done being oppressed and watching our kids & families suffer. Done watching all of society decay. We’ve played the game on the states terms before so now it’s time we speak up and take action. – Enough!

    ~ Mike Whitney
    TFRM

    Continue to email and call Florida Governor Rick Scotts office.
    Urge him to sign senate bill 668.

    Just click and email: http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/

    -Email: Rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com
    -Phone: 850-488-7146

    Show up to the rally in Florida to support this bill on tuesday 4/12/16.
    Click here for details…
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1002910239792550/

    http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/…/gov-scott-flooded-b…/nq2sc/

  6. We are watching this very closely and it should be known that fathers rights are human rights.. Equality is all that’s expected… Nothing less and nothing more. A veto of this bill which passed the senate floor by such wide margin is unacceptable and inexcusable.

    There are very many men, women and children who stand up for constitutional equal parental rights for all. We are millions of citizens who are not going anywhere. In fact our numbers are growing at an unprecedented rate and we are getting stronger & wiser by the minute to the scams of the state and family law injustices.
    We are saying enough is enough.

    A veto of Florida senate bill 668 will send a clear message to the nation of just how easily a state governor can be swayed by bias special interest groups. It will be made very clear to all how paid lawyer lobbyist and those with a vested interest in maintaining the dysfunctional status quo can manipulate the Governor to go against the wishes and rights of the majority of good citizens.

    The people want this corruption from the state no more.
    We demand our inalienable rights to parent our children.
    We demand shared parenting and know it is proven to be in the true best interest of our children.
    We also know it’s not in the best interest of the family law section of the bar association and radicalized feminist groups who appose this bill… That’s our opposition… What a disgrace.

    These people don’t speak for what’s best for our kids anymore, Fit parents equally sharing in raising those kids do. The state can stay out of it for a change.

    Whatever happens with this bill, it is being very closely watched by many more good people than most think. We’re no longer so easily manipulated and bullied. We’re no longer weak.. but we’re strong and we’re here to stay.

    Many have lost everything including their children, assets, freedom, and even their lives. The massive multi billion dollar family law industry is the direct and indirect cause to virtually all of the nations social problems. The real statistics of a fatherless society don’t lie.

    Many have nothing to lose and don’t feel like playing nice anymore with a system that is so untrustworthy and corrupt.
    The status quo is in for a very rude awakening. Times change and we’re watching, so it won’t be so easy to veto this time without public accountability.
    It will not be forgotten.

    We actually outnumber the powers that be and the groups with selfish bias agendas. The opposition to this bill have no valid argument. We’re done being oppressed and watching our kids & families suffer. Done watching all of society decay. We’ve played the game on the states terms before so now it’s time we speak up and take action. – Enough!

    ~ Mike Whitney
    TFRM

    Continue to email and call Florida Governor Rick Scotts office.
    Urge him to sign senate bill 668.

    Just click and email: http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/

    -Email: Rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com
    -Phone: 850-488-7146

    Show up to the rally in Florida to support this bill on tuesday 4/12/16.
    Click here for details…
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1002910239792550/

    http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/…/gov-scott-flooded-b…/nq2sc/

  7. I am offended that Barbara Devane and NOW is trying to tout this bill as being bad for women. That is simply not true. NOW is highly biased against men and working women. NOW’s take on a “traditional” family is not only outdated, it is bogus. Considering 70% of all families are either single parent homes or dual working parent homes I think a better term would be a “vintage” family. NOW is working on the emotion that stay at home moms sacrifice more than any other parents. Again, this is unfair and goes against the majority of most families.
    I support real families and SB 668. Please sign the bill Governor Scott. #decentlivesmatter #passSB668

  8. Even though the bill does not mandate shared parenting, they are still against it. Kids deserve to have a relationship with both parents following divorce. This bill is a small step in that direction. Governor, please sign it.

  9. After separation, the law should be setting a course for the parties to cut ties completely. Not letting people uncouple financially causes unnecessary unhappiness and pointless court disputes. So in this sense the bill does not go far enough. Eventually these laws will change nation wide after enough female payers get fed up and demand their freedom. Also kids have equal rights to their parents! And the bill still gives judges plenty of flexibility.

  10. What a mess has been made of marriage and divorce by the state. You know something wrong has happened when people ending their marriages are treated like felons and forever lose control of their lives to the arbitrary motives of judges and a legal system that represents nothing more than a boiler plate scam to relieve innocent people of their lifelong assets.
    Alimony is nothing more than a fabricated debt based on loosely defined and arbitrary “assumptions”. Yet, it becomes a tool of enslavement of individuals to the very system that supposedly exists to protect their interests.
    When government becomes the arbiter of people’s intimate and private lives and relationships for nothing more than monetary manipulation, the only outcome is evil.
    There are no boundaries or limits in the law to how far into our lives the legal profession and the judiciary can go into our lives and finances based on a nothing more than a marriage license.
    $500, $600, $1000, per hour for a divorce? Alimony for 10, 20,50 years? Jail if you don’t pay it? How can this even be logical let alone fair?
    The root of this problem is the state marriage license. An innocuous looking instrument of pure evil because it tricks you into waving ALL your rights. Civil, constitutional, and human. If governor Scott does not comprehend this, his oath of office was a useless act.

  11. “DeVane says she thinks many of those registering support are with men’s rights groups from out of state.”

    Ok well the majority of the bills that protect women are supported by feminist organization that are from out of state as well so what’s her point? That’s my issue with women’s rights groups, they don’t care about anyone, but themselves. I think that we should care about all people, not just a certain group.

  12. Gov. Scott — Please sign this Bill. The antiquated divorce laws must be changed. This bill creates guidelines and provides some uniformity to a system that is a currently a complete free-for-all. The family lawyers in this state have caused their own demise by perpetuating a system that sizes up the litigants and uses emotionally-charged personal issues to steal as much of the hard earned marital estate as possible by litigating these intentionally vague concepts and issues. The litigation goes on until either the money is gone or the non-paying spouse decides to end it. Then, a lifetime of gamesmanship begins, with predatory lawyers standing by to litigate for more fees whenever the opportunity presents itself. I am a lawyer and am disgusted by this system and these predatory lawyers that give us all a bad name. Governor Scott should accept the will of the people and support the legislature, who has overwhelmingly passed this legislation year after year. Don’t allow the family lawyers to use their high priced lobbyists to persuade you to VETO this excellent legislation. Do what is right for Florida’s citizens and what is right for children caught in this horrible system and sign this bill!

  13. I support SB 668 . The bill is fair because it doesn’t eliminate alimony; instead, it places limits, which may be long term if needed. sb 668 promotes self independence by encouraging ex spouses to become educated and/ or remarry. Currently, lifetime alimony has been granted after as little as 10 years of marriage. The ex spouse never becomes independent, never falls in love and never goes on because they become fully dependent upon their working ex. And that is very bad for both parties
    The bill also encourages ( but doesn’t demand) courts to allow children time with both parents. As a female payers and a hard working woman, I support this bill.

  14. Please sign this bill in to law. I am a father in divorce proceedings and want 50/50 time sharing with my daughter.

  15. Interesting to hear the feminists spout that children don’t need a father in their life yet those same women are arguing for continued financial dependency on a man?

  16. SB688 should be vetoed.

    The issues Alimony Reform and 50/50 child sharing should be separate bills.

    Appropriate impact studies need to be carefully done here in the State of Florida.

    Calls, emails, tweets, ….Shall be made only once by each registered voter in the state of Florida only, ending ridiculous games of ” forcing” the Govenor to sign, by having your mailman even, ask to veto the bill, you know, for the children, when it is usually about money.

    Stop the stupid playground bullying and cheating….

    This is not the right bill by any stretch of the imagination.

    Get two separate bills for two separate issues, do the studies and do it right.

    Govenor Scott, please do not be tricked and bullied into a signature.VETO SB668.

    For the sake of the state you represent, and ONLY the people who reside here. Thank you.

    1. you’re wrong;
      the overwhelming majority has spoken;
      this is a democracy and
      Gov Scott should sign this bill.

  17. The supporters of this bill bully and harass, if any attorney supports a petition against this bill, they broadcast their name and location. Same is true for women. Except they dig up dirt on the women and broad cast it. Look up MRA for yourself. Junk science, bully tactics. If it’s such a good bill why this strategy????

  18. I am writing Governor Scott to ask him to sign SB 668 into law. This request is based upon my stance on Women’s Rights and the circumstances of my own husband’s divorce.

    I feel that I must share with you the events under my own roof, as I believe my experience and perspective are rarely heard. I am married to a man who was a physician however, he became completely disabled due to a very rare autoimmune disease and was divorced in the following year. His ex-wife, a physician herself for the past 20+yrs, was granted a substantial and lifelong alimony settlement by a female family court judge. And on what was this need for alimony based? Certainly not on her income, considering that she had been serving as a physician for the State of Florida Department of Corrections for 17 years at the time of the divorce.

    Currently, this female physician is earning substantially more money than her ex-husband’s Disability, yet he must pay her $1,000 per month (plus an added $200 per month in retroactive alimony) until he dies. But after paying their minor child’s high school tuition, prepaid college funds, all of the bills that she walked away from, school lunches that she refuses to contribute to, ACT & SAT exams, school books and supplies, school clothes, and all of his own unpaid medical expenses and supplemental policies, my husband does not have the funds to pay for everyday household expenses. I take care of the mortgage. I pay for a good insurance policy for my husband’s son, since his own mother cannot be trust to maintain one for him. And the greatest irony of all is that I, a woman who rejected alimony, am forced to financially support this travesty.

    As a self-made woman and small business owner in Central Florida, I take great pride in what I have accomplished in life ON MY OWN. Each of my great-grandparents came to this country from different nations, fleeing political and religious oppression. They hoped only for the opportunity worship without persecution, to work hard for an honest wage, and the chance to instill those ethics into their children. My grandmother was 5yrs old when her mother died. Overnight, her father became the single parent of 5 children under the age of 8yrs. And despite social pressures to give up his children and the economic hardships of the Great Depression, he maintained the belief that his children were precious gifts entrusted to him and that it was a measure of character to provide for them ON HIS OWN. All three of his daughters grew up to be community leaders and strong voices in their factory unions – decades ahead of their time – teaching their contemporaries, as well as their daughters, that women have both the right and the responsibility to choose their own destiny.

    Myself included, there are three women in my extended family who have been divorced. NOT ONE of us accepted alimony, despite ex-husbands who made considerably more money and had significantly more benefits associated with their positions (stocks, investments, 401ks, healthcare, life insurance). The three of us have struggled at times as women in male dominated fields – chef, police officer, and small business owner in the medical device industry. But we also believe that being given money outright, just because we are female, is as offensive as any other form of discrimination. Women who claim that their ex-husbands have ruined their ability to obtain a decent job with a decent wage, unless they have been somehow abused to the point of significant disability, are merely lazy and looking for someone else to blame for the consequences of their own actions. To be taken seriously in the world as a women, we must stand up to those of our own gender who foster chauvinism by their “poor pitiful me” testimonies. Such behavior is disgustingly self-serving and does nothing but strengthen glass ceilings in every career path and profession.

    I hope that I have presented you with a different view of women and alimony. Although my voice may be small, I do believe it to be honest and I do believe that alimony reform is one important way that women can stand up for equality. A woman’s expectation in a divorce of being owed money for life based on her gender is a vile premise. I can only feel shame when I think of the sacrifices made by the great women of our country who fought so hard for so long – Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Mahoney, Alice Paul, Mary Walker, Dorothy Day, Jeanette Rankin, Jerrie Cobb, Dorothy Height, and countless others. Inspire us anew, brave advocates of Women’s Rights, with your message of strength and equality, as we battle now against the tide of feigned helplessness and entitlement.

    1. Allison, I admire you beyond words. You are telling it the way it is, and I am so proud of you for it.
      My case is not as profound as yours by any means, but my husband permanently supports a ‘taker’ too. He is 63 and has had a heart attack and stents, with all the meds that go with that. I worry about him daily. We both work full time jobs and we work hard, while his ex sits back for 18 years now on a 13 year marriage and does nothing to collect her $90K per year permanent alimony. She was only one credit away from paralegal status when she took off with her boyfriend and my husband and she divorced (she was 38 at the time). During the marriage, and prior to her daughter’s birth, she ran the office of a 5 lawyer firm. She has kept herself busy drinking and dragging us back into court endlessly to pass her time. (She can write all of her own motions because she is totally capable of being a legal secretary or paralegal.)
      This bill needs to be passed to stop people from winning the lifetime lottery award. It’s not fair or right.

  19. This bill is about taking outdated, lopsided alimony laws and making them fairer and more predictable for all parties involved. Men, women and children.
    The days of a woman, or a man, getting a free ride for the rest of their lives, while their ex works like a dog for the rest of their lives to support them, should be over. It’s time to update the law so that our next generation doesn’t suffer the way this generation has!
    This type of slavery promotes ill will and causes a permanent alienation of families. And the children are the most affected by it. Again, it’s time to update the law so that our next generation doesn’t suffer the way this generation of children has!
    Permanent alimony encourages people to be takers. The less they show they can work, the more money they get for free … forever. This has nothing to do with the children, and everything to do with greed. And the lawyers promote it. It’s time to update the law!
    The opposition to this bill continues to site the minority of people rather than the majority of people who are, and who will be, affected by the current law. It’s time to update the law!
    The opposition tries to make their case by stating that there ‘might’ be men who ‘might’ ask for 50/50 in order to reduce their child support. Also stating that then they ‘might’ not use the time to be with their kids. Really? There are con artists everywhere, but again, let’s focus on the majority and not the minority. This bill will help the overwhelming majority of good, honest, loving men in a divorce who want nothing more than more time with their kids but can’t get it. The current court system treats them like second class citizens from the start, except when it comes to coming up with money. How is that fair?
    I don’t understand how we live in a democracy, but Gov Scott can repeatedly ignore the will of the people, as well as the majority votes in the House and Senate? He’s already done it once. If he does this again, then why do we have a House and a Senate at all? Why is one man making this decision, when the voters have already spoken? TWICE!!
    The majority is mad, and we have a right to be. Governor Scott – are you going to join the ranks of the Political Establishment and listen to the special interests groups and your buddies, or are you going to do what is right and sign this bill? The majority has spoken in the House, the Senate, in the media, via email and phone.
    The ‘right thing to do’ for Florida families, children and Florida Voters is to listen to the majority who elected you and execute the will of the people.

  20. It is time to end economic slavery. I realize that some women have made significant sacrifices for their families sake and need to prepare themselves to enter the job market. Alimony should be transitional and be used as an economic aid as both parties start a new life. We must conduct ourselves as mature adults. I never want to see my ex-wife do poorly which is why I agreed to the terms of my alimony. She has worked hard and started a new life for herself. I’m happy for her and pray she continues to do well. But it is unfair to prevent me from realizing my hopes and desires. The chains of alimony won’t allow me to save for retirement or pursue my dreams. Life is the greatest gift of all. Governor Scott, it’s time to do what’s right. If child support has a term limitation certainly alimony should have one.

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