A bill that bans permanent alimony drew several dozen protesters to Governor Rick Scott’s office on Friday.
The bill (SB 718) has sparked heated debate throughout the legislative session, and now awaits Scott’s signature or veto. Among the protestors was Maria Gonzales, secretary of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, which opposes the bill. “There are so many new presumptions of law, so many hurdles, so many things, and the primary individual who has to come in to litigate is the individual that has the least resources to do it,” Gonzales said.
The bill also limits alimony payments based on income and the length of the marriage and requires divorcing parents to share their children’s time equally – which Gonzales said would reduce child care payments.
Simone Kay, a 22-year-old honor student at Florida State University, joined the protest because of the impact of her parents’ divorce. “Forcing children to spend 50-50 time split would cause them to have to shuffle back and forth between parents’ homes more frequently than usual, which can upset grades, it can upset activities, it can upset even their mental stability and health,” she said.
The measure went to the governor on Wednesday, and as of that day, 3,076 supporters and 475 opponents had contacted his office. The sponsors – Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Ritch Workman – have called on Scott to sign it quickly. Scott was in Washington, D.C. on Friday. He has until next Wednesday to decide.