Tom Lee will try again to overhaul alimony, custody laws
State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon.

lee, tom

State Sen. Tom Lee won’t give up on trying to amend Florida law on alimony and child custody.  

On Thursday, Lee filed a bill (SB 250) to change the way divorces are handled in state courts.

It marks at least the third time since 2013 that Lee, a Brandon Republican, has supported such an overhaul bill. It will be considered in the 2016 Regular Session. 

The latest legislation – 41-pages long – would enact a raft of provisions, including:

  • Requiring a judge to “make specific written findings of fact regarding the relevant factors that justify an award of alimony.”
  • Changing the calculations for alimony amounts to make it less easy to obtain. That includes considering what an ex-spouse could be making if he or she is otherwise “voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.”
  • Excluding undistributed “earnings or gains on retirement accounts” when determining income for alimony purposes.
  • Creating a legal presumption that “approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is … in the (child’s) best interest.”
  • Requiring a judge to consider “the frequency that a parent would likely leave the child in the care of a non-relative … when the other parent would be available and willing to provide care” when deliberating custody time. 

Gov. Rick Scott in 2013 vetoed a contentious measure, also supported by Lee, that would have ended so-called “permanent alimony.”

It was backed by two other Republicans: state Rep. Ritch Workman of Melbourne and state Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland. 

Scott said he appreciated that lawmakers wanted to “level the playing field in divorce proceedings.”

But he said he couldn’t sign the bill because it could have “retroactively” reduced alimony payments, causing “unfair, unanticipated results.”

This year, another measure died that also would have mandated alimony awards based on how long a marriage lasted and how much each partner earned.

Lee has gone through his own ugly divorce, clashing with his ex-wife for more time with his kids, among other things.

But at the time, he insisted he wasn’t pushing any legislation for himself, but to help others in the future in similar legal binds.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor 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 [email protected]


11 comments

  • Stephanie

    September 10, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Sen. Tom Lee, you need to have an 80% pay cut. We need our Infrastructure rebuilt, WE NEED MEDICAID EXPANSION. NOT SOME LAW TO HELP OUT YOU AND YOUR FELLOW REPUBLICANS.

    • Sharon Lee Gates

      October 2, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      I believe this law needs to be passed immediately. Do you know how many lazy men who won’t work, when their wife needs to divorce him, they apply for alimony? Since they don’t work, their wife has to pay it now under the present laws.

      • S. Guinther

        November 30, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        So, according to this law, my ex-wife should have equal custody and be considered a better alternative to babysitters and relatives. My exwife, who at this point, has felony drug convictions, unstable residence, abusive/domestic violence issues, and doesn’t pay support.

  • Terrance power

    September 11, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Our outdated permanent alimony and family court laws will finally get fixed this legislative session. Thank you to our legislators on both sides of the aisle for making this a reality in 2016!

  • Protective Mom

    September 12, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Why don’t you work on helping the poor and disadvantaged rather than the rich who take vacations every two months, fly their planes for a lunch from St Pete to Key West, or those who spew hatred towards those struggling because they ahev too much time on their hands. Or even better – look at the social media presence of those you are trying to help with these laws. Stalking innocent people, targeting children, exposing children to untold danger?

    • JZ

      September 23, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      That works both ways if there is real ‘equality’ between men and women under the law. There are also men that struggle hard so ex-wives can vacation after divorce, while keeping the children from their Fathers, which is a form of victimization by women against both men and the children. Equality works both ways.

  • Steven

    September 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Equal timesharing 2016!!

  • Lee Kallett

    September 28, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I post this http://youtu.be/l523XAgv_vc to inform the public about the current antiquated alimony laws still in existence around the country. This is my alimony horror story. In the no fault divorce state of Florida, the ex had many adulterous affairs with other women (while pregnant with the second and last child) and including her incestuous relationship with her own 20 year old female cousin. In 2003 she formed Tampa Chaverot-Jewish Lesbians of Tampa Bay http://members.tripod.com/sherylk_/tampachaverot/id1.html while we were still married. Then, she gets rewarded for all this and her changed sexual orientation with lifetime alimony in 2006 by the Hillsborough County Court (Tampa Case No: 05-DR-013627 http://opencourtrecords.org/case.php?id=3795300) and I get punished financially. How is this right and just? It certainly isn’t and the time to fix such an injustice is now. The duplicity continues and she blogs and writes as well as conducts her day to day life under an assumed last name, only using her legal last name on the driver’s license and to cash the hefty checks I write. If you are outraged about this avaricious hypocrite, please get involved to fight the unjust alimony laws around the country. There is no reason why a judge can’t order her to return to the workforce. She is a four year university graduate. The children are adults and no longer living in the home. There’s no reason why an able bodied, healthy, educated woman can’t be instructed by new law and guidelines to fully financially support herself. In a case similar to mine, a man paying lifetime alimony to his lesbian ex-wife had the alimony award overturned. A Minnesota court held that the “defendant’s post-decree lesbianism is a material change in circumstances which justifies the termination of alimony.” The case is Anonymous v Anonymous, 5 Fam.L Rptr. (BNA) 2127 (Minn.Dist.Ct.15 Nov 1978). Read the article here: http://news.google.com/newspapers…
    This key point should be addressed in all proposed alimony reform legislation. Expanding the definition of “change in circumstances” beyond the financial to include a change in sexual orientation or gender will make the criteria more relevant to today.
    While the contemporary picture of marriage may be changing, when we divorced in Florida, marriage was between a man and a woman. Currently sexual reassignment surgeries are becoming more common place. Why should a spouse who believed they were marrying someone of the opposite sex, have to support that spouse who changes their gender or sexual orientation and redefines the marriage? The traditional marriage is broken through no fault of the other spouse. This is not like a couple who “fall out of love” or have grown tired of one another.
    Florida lawmakers should take into consideration this new reality and the changing landscape of marriage and reasons for divorce. Granting lifetime alimony to a spouse who changed sexual orientation or gender is absolutely an injustice. This needs to be stopped and such previous judgments overturned.
    Lifetime alimony supports such trips: http://www.insiderouttravel.com/…/07/safari-adventure.html or with the family here: http://news.co.cr/three-generations-of-family…/11026/ as well as many others.
    Lifetime alimony affects the entire family and families are divided. Parental alienation occurs with the issue. The ex filed in the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, in and for Hillsborough County, FL Case No: 13-11991 Division G http://opencourtrecords.org/case.php?id=3081441 and on August 21, 2013 the judge ruled for Order of Dismissal of Temporary Injunction for Protection “The evidence presented is insufficient under Florida law”. The ex-wife attempted in her demand to muzzle our alimony reform efforts. She even had our 18 year old son testify against me. My daughter also advocated against reform by visiting the Governor’s office. She was interviewed by media as in this article. She provided a fake last name even though her legal last name is Kallett. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/…/two-dozen-women-urge…
    Please support alimony reform.

    • Sharon Lee Gatez

      October 15, 2015 at 7:53 am

      This law is very important and has nothing to do with helping out his fellow Republicans.

  • Jessie Weiner

    December 16, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Equal time sharing should be automatic. Why is it that a father is appropriate to care for the child during the marriage, but the minute separation comes into play, the father is a terrible awful unfit caregiver? My husband is an amazing father, a disabled veteran, and a stay at home Dad. His ex-wife claimed that she feared for their son’s life because of my husband’s combat related PTSD. Just so he could at least see their son, my husband accepted the minimum time sharing of 2 hours each Saturday. 4 years later, and $50,000 in debt with attorney fees, we’re still fighting for 50/50 time sharing. Then the topper of it all……. he boyfriend also has self-reported combat related PTSD.

  • valerie

    March 10, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Welcome in the new era of “BACKPACK KIDS” , who have no roots!!! But its really about whats good for the adults and bitter lawmakers in this case, not the kids right???

Comments are closed.


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