FL NOW (National Organization for Women) Lobbyist Barbara DeVane released the following statement as the ‘Dissolution of Marriage,” CS/SB 1796, heads for the Governor’s desk.
Statement from Barbara DeVane, Florida NOW Lobbyist:
“Florida NOW has identified many serious issues with the ‘Dissolution of Marriage” bill – SB 1796. First, there is no problem with current law, which already stipulates the court may award alimony only after initially determining that one spouse needs alimony, and the other spouse is able to pay alimony.
“Secondly, this bill would be retroactive. It would allow an alimony judgment entered by a court preceding the statute to be modified or eliminated, which alone is unconstitutional.
“As The Family Section of the Florida Bar said in a recent statement regarding SB 1796:
‘This sets a dangerous precedent for contractual agreements in Florida, and we are deeply concerned that this public policy erases equitability and sets up a system that heavily favors one party, while damaging the other unnecessarily. It will also result in prolonged litigation, drive the cost of divorce up and cause backlogs in an already overburdened family court system.’
“We at Florida NOW are just as concerned as the Family Section of the Florida Bar by the dangerous precedent and economic burden this bill will set.
“SB 1796 mandates 50/50 custody of minor children. A 50/50 presumption would be adverse for children in abuse and risky cases. Using this default has led to the murders of Greyson Kessler in Broward County, and morerecently Baleria Tovar, age 12, and Matias Tovar, age 9, in Miami Lakes, by an abusive parent in each case We fear this bill will come with body count for children in Florida.
“The best interest of the child is paramount and should be considered on a case by case basis. Better education is needed in family law, not state mandates that tie judges hands and prevent informed decision making. Such a provision is unworkable for courts, bad for children, bad for families, and disastrous for anyone who is a survivor of domestic violence.
“Even in the best situations, a 50/50 child time-sharing provision is often still harmful and will come at high economic cost. It reduces the weight given to factors important in reducing the negative impact of divorce in children: stability of a physical home and schooling, continuation of friendships and child care arrangements, and the things that comfort a child. It also ignores the fact that divorced parents often relocate at a distance from another. In short, it gives unrealistic and unwelcome weight to one factor above others. Furthermore, creating a presumption of equal time-sharing would immediately cause economic hardships for thousands of Floridians and by all parties. It shifts the burden of proof and persuasion to a parent to prove lack of involvement or unfitness of the other parent, even in extreme cases where there has been abuse or neglect.
“These are truly dire economic issues that will have far-reaching effects for all parties involved; therefore, Governor DeSantis should smartly and seriously consider the real life impacts and the burdens this bad bill will bring toFlorida’s families and economy. We urge theGovernor to veto SB 1796.”