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Gov. Scott surprises many, vetoes permanent alimony bill

After the Florida Legislature sent Governor Rick Scott Senate Bill 718 last week, a strong majority of legislators in both branches of state government -- including virtually all Republican members -- felt confident that the would-be law ending permanent alimony would be agreed with and signed by Scott.

They ended up being mightily surprised.

Scott vetoed the bill, which resulted in immediate and widespread comment among both its advocates and those who strongly opposed it on grounds that permanent spousal maintenance is often a type of equitable property division.

Leading up to its arrival on Scott's desk last Wednesday, SB 718 had garnered a lot of national attention, given that alimony is a hot topic in many state legislators across the country. Had the bill passed, Florida would have been the fifth state to abolish permanent alimony.

The bill passed by wide majorities in both the state's House and Senate bodies, with many legislative members having been influenced by the lobbying efforts of the grassroots group Florida Alimony Reform.

Scott bucked that support and seeming momentum, saying that he was especially concerned with the bill's retroactive application. He said that adjusting settled awards from years ago could "tamper with the settled expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce," adding that such adjustments "could result in unfair, unanticipated results."

Legislators who sponsored and supported the bill were reported as being surprised by Scott's action. A number of them stated in its wake that the matter is far from over and will be revisited in the future.

Others, though, lauded the veto. One critic of the legislation called Scott's action "courageous." Another said the passage "would have left many women with diminished means."

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Rick Scott vetoes alimony, signs campaign inance and ethics," Steve Bousquet, May 1, 2013

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