Florida Alimony Change : The Midnight Battle

sfsaOn behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

Believe it or not, the law does not change at a fast pace. With that in mind, Florida’s attempt at alimony changes is like watching a NASCAR race!

Last month, the Florida Senate passed bill 718 making major changes to Florida’s alimony law (like prohibiting permanent alimony) and timesharing law (creating a policy that equal timesharing is in the best interest of the child).

A few weeks later, the Florida House adopted the Senate’s bill, by an overwhelming vote.

As the Miami Herald reports, late last night, Governor Scott vetoed Senate bill 718 to everyone’s shock. His veto came only 4 hours before the midnight deadline, after which the bill would have automatically become law.

The HUGE constitutional problems with the bill was that bill applied retroactively (people could rely on the new law to overturn court orders and settlement agreements entered years ago.)

What’s the Constitution’s problem with retroactivity? There are two big problems actually:

1. The legislature can’t make laws impairing existing contracts. Since the alimony bill would overturn agreements entered years ago, the bill is probably unconstitutional.

2. Our constitution separates the three branches of government, and prohibits one branch from exercising the powers of another branch. The alimony bill effectively allows the legislative branch to un-do court orders entered by the judicial branch.

The Governor wrote the Senate President a letter late last night outlining his reasons:

The retroactive adjustment of alimony could result in unfair, unanticipated results. Current Florida law already provides for the adjustment of alimony under the proper circumstances. The law also ensures that spouses who have sacrificed their careers to raise a family do not suffer financial catastrophe upon divorce and that the lower-earning spouse and stay-at-home parent will not be financially punished.

The Legislature now has the opportunity to override the Governor’s veto by a two-thirds vote in each house, or take out the offensive retroactive language and try again.

This is almost as much drama as Vikings. Stay tuned!