Gov. Rick Scott vetoes alimony bill, citing time-sharing provision
Gov. Rick Scott on Friday vetoed the most divisive piece of legislation from the 2016 legislative session: an overhaul of alimony laws that would have created a new legal premise that each parent in a divorce could have approximate equal time custody of children.
Scott has been whipsawed for weeks by supporters and opponents of the bill (SB 668), and both sides clashed earlier this week in demonstrations at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.
"As a husband, father and grandfather, I understand the importance of family and the sensitivity and passion that comes with the subject of family law," Scott said in a veto message. "Family law issues are very personal and nearly every family comes to the court with different circumstances and needs."
Scott continued: "Current law directs a judge to consider the needs and interests of the children first when determining a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. This bill has the potential to up-end that policy in favor of putting the wants of a parent before the child's best interest by creating a premise of equal time-sharing. Our judges must consider each family's unique situation and abilities and put the best interests of the child above all else."
Scott's veto places him on the same side of groups that are often at odds with him, such as the National Organization for Women and the League of Women Voters. Among the bill's critics who had been urging a veto was Brian Burgess, a Tallahassee media consultant who worked on Scott's first campaign in 2010 and later was his first communications director.
"In the end, Rick Scott is a family values conservative, and this was the right choice to protect children and their primary caretaker," Burgess said in response to Scott's veto.