Lawmakers approve bill that would drastically change alimony in Florida

Gov. Rick Scott to decide on bill in coming month

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Three weeks ago Tuesday, state lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that would drastically change alimony in Florida and create a premise for equal child sharing in a divorce. But the legislature is using a delaying tactic in its efforts to convince Gov. Rick Scott to sign the bill.

Even if lawmakers send Scott the alimony bill this week, he’ll have until a few days before his wedding anniversary to make a decision. The governor will celebrate his 44th wedding anniversary April 20.

In virtually every public area of the governor’s mansion, there’s a photo of Scott and his daughters or his grandchildren.

Three years ago, he vetoed legislation that dramatically changed alimony laws in Florida because it allowed couples to go back into court and change their final settlement.

"I listened to a lot of people and what I was concerned about on that was the retroactive part of it," Scott said.

Now the governor faces nearly the same decision. The bill approved by lawmakers sets up a formula to calculate temporary alimony payments, allows a payer to go back in to court if a former spouse's income changes. The bill also adds the controversial premise that parents have a right to equal child sharing.

Scott hasn’t said much about the bill.

Lawmakers have yet to send the bill to the governor, even though it passed more than two weeks ago. The delay is tactical in nature.

Florida Alimony Reform’s Facebook page is filled with calls to action. So far they have generated 5,600 messages to Scott. On the other side, the National Organization For Women has sent about 1,400 messages.

"If this is signed into law, children will be used as leverage in an alimony case and it shouldn’t be that way," said Barbara DeVane of NOW. "We should protect our children at all costs."