Permanent alimony will continue to remain an option for Florida family law judges. Gov. Ron DeSantis has vetoed the latest bill addressing this subject that was passed by the Florida legislature.
The attempt at eliminating this option, as other states have done, is not the first. Lawmakers have been trying to do this for about a decade. This bill, however, appeared to have some chance of success after numerous meetings between those on both sides of the issue and several amendments.
DeSantis objected to the “retroactive effect” of the bill
Gov. DeSantis’ reasoning for his veto is that the legislation would “be given retroactive effect” and “unconstitutionally impair vested rights under certain preexisting marital settlement agreements.” Those agreements that are modifiable could have been subject to having permanent alimony changed to one of the other temporary options, which are durational, rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap.
The current and former chairpersons of the Florida Bar’s Family Law Section had both spoken out against the legislation. In a statement following the veto, they said that “this legislation would have upended thousands upon thousands of settlements, backlogging the courts and throwing many Floridians’ lives into turmoil.” They also noted that it would have set a “bad precedent…for settled contracts in the state of Florida.”
Opponents of the legislation had argued that it would endanger the financial security of those spouses who were the primary child caregivers in favor of those who had been the main breadwinner in the family.
Modifications can still be made
Alimony agreements can still be modified by a court if changes for one or both ex-spouses warrant it. Retirement of the payor would be one common example.
The legislation also addressed custody agreements. It would have provided a presumption of equal parenting time. Of course, parenting time could still be divided in whatever way co-parents negotiated or a court decided.
For now, then, nothing is changing under Florida law for divorcing and divorced couples and co-parents. Even though all spouses have the right to seek the agreements that are in their and their children’s best interests, it’s important to know what the law says. That’s just one reason that having sound legal guidance is crucial.