Florida lawmakers, advocacy groups and everyday citizens have had their eyes on Tallahassee for the past few months. A new bill that could seriously affect how alimony is awarded in divorce settlements has been slowly making its way through the Florida Senate. However, Senate Bill 718 (SB 718) hit a wall in Governor Rick Scott´s office.
On May 1, 2013, the Florida governor vetoed SB 718. In a letter explaining his reasons for the veto, Scott cited the possibility that the bill could have had a negative effect on existing alimony awards. He also expressed concern that the bill´s passage could have a drastic impact on the lives of those whose financial well-being is reliant solely on their current alimony payments.
SB 718 would have effectively put a stop to permanent alimony, which is currently the status quo in Florida and most other states. It also would have set standards for alimony which were based on the length of the marriage up to the time of divorce. Should the bill have passed, it would have greatly changed the outcome of divorces in Florida going forward while also impacting existing divorces retroactively.
The news of the veto was met with mixed reactions. Groups who were against the bill, like the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, were elated with the news of the veto. Meanwhile those seeking alimony reform were, obviously, less than enthusiastic about the result.
For those seeking a divorce in Florida, the news can be viewed from both sides. For those who need alimony for their financial well-being after a divorce, the veto is a good thing. For those who feel as if they should not have to pay alimony forever, the veto is a bad thing. Now, as before, those going through a divorce in Florida will simply have to rely on the outcome of their day in court.