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Support reform isn’t coming to Florida anytime soon. Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have eliminated permanent child support.
Governor DeSantis likes to make a splash when he signs legislation, but when it comes to a veto, he doesn’t make a big deal out of it.
In late June, the governor vetoed the Dissolution of Marriage Act (HB 1395), which would have eliminated permanent alimony and set maximum payments based on the length of a marriage.
“Unlike child support, which is based on a formula, alimony could use a formula,” said family law attorney Sheldon Finman.
Finman said without the formula, judges would continue to use their discretion in awarding alimony.
“It’s not that the judges don’t know what they’re doing. They do, and they’re very caring,” Finman said.
Not every judge is the same, however, which means different judges may award different amounts.
“It was hard. It’s horrible. And it still is,” said Jodi Berger, a member of the First Wives Advocacy Group.
The First Wives Advocacy Group is a group that opposes any attempt to abolish permanent child support.
Berger has a disabled son, which makes it difficult for her to work. “I can never earn enough back in my life to put me in a position to care for myself and my son.”
The measure dissolving the marriage would have required the judges to begin with the assumption that children should divide their time evenly between their parents.
Jan Killilea, who is also a member of the First Wives Advocacy Group, said it could be dangerous.
“Each year, 58,000 children across the United States are sentenced to a physically or sexually abusive relationship with a parent. It’s terrifying,” Killilea said.
The 58,000 comes from a study by the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence.
“The implications of the governor’s veto are very significant,” Finman said.
The Florida Bar’s Family Law Department lobbied against the bill. The group thanked the governor and said if he had signed the measure into law, it would have upended thousands of settlements and led to a backlog in the courts.