Florida’s baby assist legislation could possibly be revised

After years of legislative wrangling on the issue, Gov. Ron DeSantis is faced with a decision on whether to approve revisions to the state’s child support laws.

The Legislature sent DeSantis a controversial child support bill (SB 1796) 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 controversial parts of this year’s bill would change the process for changing child support payments when those who paid want to retire. 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.

Critics argued that the plan could impoverish ex-spouses who were housewives and relied on the payments.

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 entitled to alimony and those married for 20 years or more are entitled to payments for up to 75% of the marriage period.

Another part of the bill 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.

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