For the first time in three years, lawmakers are once again facing a battle over child support payments.
Reformers are attempting to abolish permanent child support payments and create policies that would make child support payments more uniform across the state.
Elisa Del Ray married an abusive husband. She finally plucked up the courage to get a divorce when he threatened her with a gun.
“I never thought I’d be paying my abuser permanent child support,” Del Ray said Thursday in a committee before lawmakers.
Del Ray’s case is extreme, but it’s one of the reasons alimony reformers want to end permanent child support in the state of Florida.
“The most important thing that long-term child payers want is to see the light at the end of the tunnel, because a lot of them just have this feeling of hopelessness,” said Alan Elkins of Florida Family Fairness.
During a panel discussion, reformers are urged by lawmakers to limit alimony to half the length of marriage and introduce a standard formula for calculating alimony to ensure consistency.
The idea caught the attention of Rep. Bob Rommel.
“I want to see if there is a fair formula for most cases. I know that there are always extreme circumstances in some divorces,” Rommel said.
But family law advocates say the cost of living and lifestyle varies across the state.
“And when you try to put that in a box and formulate it, it becomes very difficult to be fair to everyone,” said Andrea Reid of the Florida Bar Family Law Section.
In 2016, a bill that included guidelines for child support payments was approved by the legislature.
Then-Governor Rick Scott vetoed it, but now there’s a new governor and renewed optimism for reformers.
No bill has been officially introduced yet, but proponents have retained two of the most powerful lobby groups in the state capital.
One change that family law reformers and advocates agree on is that after a person retires, they should be able to stop making child support payments.
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