The controversial bill on child support reform, which has already been vetoed twice, is rearing its ugly head again
In the last decade, a highly controversial child support reform bill passed by the Florida legislature was defeated by the then-governor not once, but twice Rick Scott. Scott pointed to the fact that the proposed reform bill would have been retroactive and would have far-reaching implications for families and children who depend on child support arrangements for some level of stability in their lives.
Scott’s vetoes are still relevant today, as the same onerous, retrospective provision has surfaced again in another attempt to pass the same controversial bill. The 2022 legislation is being camouflaged as a “kid-focused” measure thanks to the well-funded efforts of wealthy divorcees and, in some cases, their new spouses.
But, as Scott pointed out at the time, the constant call for so-called “support reform” is all about the wallets of the divorced, who are unhappy with their existing, court-decided arrangements. The children are secondary. The vast majority of the law’s supporters were (or are) the main breadwinners of the existing divorce settlement and will benefit financially from the renegotiation and reduction of existing alimony payments.
Scott made it clear on both previous vetoes that he had considered very carefully and was heavily influenced by both sides. In the end, he says, he made his decisions based on what he felt was in the best interests of Florida families. But Scott is also no friend of destabilizing an existing legal framework on which families and children depend.
Now, in the latest attempt to undermine the institution of marriage, state senator at least Jason Pizzaa Democrat, admirably attempted to make the latest bill more palatable by tabling a simple, two-sentence amendment so that the supposed “reforms” would apply only to new child support agreements after the bill went into effect, rather than allowing tens of thousands of current divorce settlements to suddenly become challenged in court.
Unfortunately, his amendment was rejected by Republicans, who are said to be advocates of traditional marriage and family values.
The upshot of this latest attempt at so-called “support reform” is that this bill makes it more financially attractive for the main breadwinner in a family to get out of the marriage relationship. And it makes divorce a financially daunting prospect for those who sacrifice their careers to care for their children.
In most cases, it is women who are making these sacrifices in the name of the “family values” that Republicans purportedly espouse.
“They are [supporters of retroactive alimony reform] not consider [an] older woman who either gave up her career or never started a career and they stayed at home and raised the kids, supported her husband as he advanced in his career and then she gets older and he wants to trade her for a younger model,” said Barbara DeVanein a story published in 2013, it was the first time this bad bill had been nearly forced upon tens of thousands of vulnerable families and children.
Even a cursory reading of the bill reveals its repulsive, anti-marriage bias. Among other things, the bill removes the court’s ability to consider adultery or spousal infidelity when determining alimony. Republicans who think reform is the right thing to do because it is “fairer” and “more just” in modern times are deluding themselves. If passed, the law will simply further weaken the institution of marriage.
Florida lawmakers in the House of Representatives are scheduled to debate the bill on Tuesday. If it gets through there, the only hope of defeating it rests with the governor Ron DeSantisto follow Gov. Rick Scott’s example twice and send it to the political graveyard a third time.
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