TALLAHASSEE — After years of legislative battles over the issue, Gov. Ron DeSantis is faced with a decision on whether to approve a dramatic overhaul of the state’s child support laws that would end payments for some and limit payments for others.
Asked about it Monday, DeSantis did not say if he would approve the bill. He only said he expects to sign or veto all the remaining 52 bills, possibly as early as this week.
“We go through our process. A lot of the bills that come out end up on my desk and I have to see them all, we’re doing our due diligence,” DeSantis said at the Pig Bar-BQ in Callahan. “We research them. We try to make the best possible decisions for the people of the state of Florida. So this process is underway. I think we’ve probably gotten 80 (percent) to 90 percent of the bills through already.”
The Legislature sent the controversial Child Support Act (SB 1796) to DeSantis on Friday, along with numerous other bills passed during the legislative session that ended in March. Former Gov. Rick Scott twice vetoed proposed revisions to child support payments.
One of the most debated parts of this year’s bill would change the process for changing child support payments when people who have paid child support plan to retire. Critics argued that the plan could impoverish ex-spouses who were housewives and relied on the payments.
Ex-spouses who pay would have to give a year’s notice that they intend to retire and could, except in certain circumstances, stop making payments at retirement.
The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 21 to 16 and the House of Representatives by a vote of 74 to 42, would also eliminate permanent child support and set maximum payment periods.
Spouses married for less than three years are not eligible for alimony, and those married 20 years or more are eligible for payments for up to 75 percent of the marriage’s length.
Another part would require judges to start with a “presumption” that children should divide their time evenly between parents. Scott largely based his 2016 veto of a child support bill on a similar child-sharing provision.