DeSantis vetoes baby help funds and voices concern to Retrospective Elements

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis has vetoed a bill that would have changed the state’s child support laws in a controversial move that critics say “threatened to impoverish elderly ex-spouses who were housewives and depended on the payments.”

It’s an emotionally charged topic that has a long history, dating back to Rick Scott’s tenure as governor between 2011 and 2019.

On June 24, DeSantis decided he would not revise the child support law, which has now been “on the ball” three times and had its third strike.

The bill would have eliminated permanent alimony and set a maximum payment based on “length of marriage.”

In the past, the measure has provoked emotional debates among lawmakers during the session, which ended in March.

DeSantis expressed concern about the bill, which would allow ex-spouses to change existing child support agreements.

“If CS/CS/SB 1796 were to become law and apply retrospectively, as the legislature intended, it would be unconstitutional to affect the rights of certain pre-existing marriage agreements,” the governor wrote in his veto letter.

During the legislative process, many ex-spouses came out to tell lawmakers they didn’t want the law because they agreed to give up assets in exchange for “permanent alimony” at the time of their divorce.

Proponents of the bill said the bill would “modernize” Florida’s child support laws by making the process “fairer and more predictable” for those seeking a divorce.

In a written statement, Marc Johnson, a Tampa attorney and also the president of Florida Family Fairness, released a prepared statement expressing disappointment with the governor’s decision to veto the law.

“We are incredibly disappointed at the veto of this much-needed law. Today, Gov. DeSantis has put divorce attorneys ahead of Florida families and parents who love their children and want to be a part of their lives,” Johnson wrote.

If the law had been passed, it would have cut alimony entitlements for those married less than three years, but those married 20 years or more could receive payments for up to 75 percent of the terms of the marriage.

In addition, the bill would have required judges in divorce cases to begin with a “presumption” that children should divide their time equally between parents.

At the time, then-Governor Rick Scott based his 2016 veto of a child support law on a similar child-sharing provision.

The Florida Bar Association’s family law division campaigned against the bill, thanking the governor “for understanding the bad precedent that retroactivity” of the measure would have set.

“If this law had been signed, it would have turned thousands upon thousands of settlements on their head, courts would have defaulted and the lives of many Floridians would have been upset,” Philip Wartenbert, the chairman, wrote on Facebook.

Interest groups on both sides of the issue had lobbied for DeSantis’ office.

In a June 24 tweet, the group First Wives Advocacy said it had submitted a petition with more than 2,000 signatures asking for a veto.

In support of the bill, the governor’s office reported that it had received 5,939 emails and 1,250 emails opposing the bill. Phone calls in support of the bill resulted in 349 calls and 289 against.

Some of the phone logs and emails were released by the governor’s office, in which some asked the governor to veto the law, saying it would “harm women and families” and “push some into poverty.”

“The likely consequences are that women will be badly affected, particularly women who have divorced after long marriages where they may have put their careers on hold to support their now ex-husbands,” said Felice Schulaner, a concerned one Citizen, the governor’s office in a recording message.

“How many women will lose their homes?” he asked.

Murielle Fournier, another concerned Florida resident, wrote to the governor describing their settlement as a “good faith contract” that was “amicable” between her and her ex-husband, which does not allow him to “change his payments.” , and the bill could potentially affect their “nest egg.”

“It is a contract that I have entered into under applicable law,” she wrote. “I work and have to rent a room because I can’t afford to rent my own apartment – ​​I don’t own a house, no retirement savings, no nest egg. This bill will ruin me financially.”


Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter covering the state of Florida.

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