Advocates, lawyers react to DeSantis’ veto of bill that would end permanent alimony

Published: July 4, 2022 3:22 PM EDT
Updated: July 5, 2022 8:07 AM EDT

Alimony reform is not coming to Florida anytime soon. Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have done away with permanent alimony.

Governor DeSantis likes to put on a show when he signs a bill into law, but when it comes to a veto, he tends not to make a big deal out of it.

In late June, the governor vetoed the Dissolution of Marriage bill (HB 1395) that would have done away with permanent alimony and set up maximum payments based on the duration of a marriage.

“Unlike child support, which is based upon a formula, alimony could use a formula,” said Sheldon Finman, a family law attorney.

Finman said without the formula, judges will continue to use their own discretion when awarding alimony.

“It’s not so much that judges don’t know what they’re doing. They do and they’re very caring,” said Finman.

Not every judge is the same, though, meaning different judges could award different amounts.

“It was hard. It’s horrific. And it still is,” said Jodi Berger, a member of the First Wives Advocacy Group.

The First Wives Advocacy Group is a group that fights any effort to eliminate permanent alimony.

Berger has a disabled son, which she said makes it tough for her to work. “I can never in my lifetime earn back enough to get to a position where I will be able to take care of myself and my son.”

The Dissolution of Marriage measure would have required judges to begin with the presumption that kids should split their time equally between their parents.

Jan Killilea, who is also with the First Wives Advocacy Group, said that can be dangerous.

“58,000 children from across the United States, every year are court-ordered into a physically or sexually abusive relationship with a parent. That’s frightening,” said Killilea.

The 58,000 comes from a study done by the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence.

“The impact of the governor’s veto is very significant,” said Finman.

The family law section of the Florida Bar lobbied against the bill. The group thanked the governor, saying had he signed the measure into law it would have upended thousands of settlements creating a backlog in the courts.