“Tens of thousands” of Florida child support payments could reopen under Bill

Women calling themselves “first wives” are asking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a bill that could result in them losing agreed-upon child support payments from their exes.

The women are fighting the Florida Senate Bill 1796. The bill would effectively end permanent child support payments in the state.

A woman who spoke out against the law said they were threatened and physically assaulted.

Photo of the Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee, Florida on November 10, 2018. Several people are urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto SB 1796, which would end permanent child support payments in the state.Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

Camille Fiveash claims she was pushed and pushed in the Florida capital, according to Raw Story. She also claims to have received threats against her life.

“Right here in this Capitol, I’ve been pushed by a man, I’ve been followed by a man, and I’ve had death threats – death threats! — because of that bill,” she told Raw Story.

In February, Raw Story reported that a member of the Florida Senate had asked some of his staffers to keep the women known as First Wives safe as they were scheduled to testify during a hearing on the bill.

Philip Wartenberg, a marriage and family law attorney, said the bill was retroactive.

“You shouldn’t make retrospective changes. We’re trying to protect these people,” he told Raw Story.

Wartenberg added that the number of legal cases that could be resumed under the law is enormous.

“Tens of thousands of cases are being reopened,” he told Raw Story.

The bill, passed by the Florida House of Representatives by a vote of 74 to 42 on Thursday, March 10, states that “permanent alimony shall not exceed 50 percent of the length of a marriage lasting between three and 10 years of the length of a marriage lasting between 10 and 20 years, or 75 percent of the length of a marriage lasting 20 years or more,” according to 10 Tampa Bay.

In addition, the bill provides that marriages that have lasted less than three years will not receive alimony.

In addition to the women known as first wives, 10 Tampa Bay says another organization has spoken out against the law: The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section. In a statement, the group encouraged DeSantis to use his veto power. They claim that if the law were to become law, it would have “serious repercussions” on those hoping for alimony.

Additionally, the group’s statement said this law would challenge other “contractual arrangements” in the state.

“This sets a dangerous precedent for contractual arrangements in Florida, and we are deeply concerned that this public policy will erase justice and establish a system that greatly favors one party while needlessly harming the other.” It will also result in lengthy litigation, driving up divorce costs and creating backlogs in an already overburdened family court system,” Florida Bar family law department chair Heather L. Apicella said in a statement to 10 Tampa Bay.

The bill is currently on its way to DeSantis’ desk, where the governor can either sign the bill into law or veto it. Before DeSantis took over the Florida governorship, former Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoed legislation twice in 2013 and 2016, similar to SB 1796, Raw Story reported.

A Change.org petition urges Desantis to veto the law, calling it “bad politics.” It currently has nearly 1,300 signatures.

If the Florida governor signed the law into law, it would go into effect on July 1, 10, Tampa Bay reports.

Newsweek reached out to Gov. DeSantis’ office but received no response prior to publication.

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