In a recent editorial, the Tampa Bay Times suggested that Governor Rick Scott should veto the legislature’s latest attempt to overhaul Florida’s divorce laws. The newspaper criticized the legislation in the following respects: with regard to alimony, the proposed law would allow alimony agreements to be renegotiated if the recipient’s income rises by 10%. This trigger, according to the paper, is far too low for spouses whose primary work had been child rearing. With regard to child custody rules, the paper disagreed with the proposed laws’ premise that divorced parents should spend equal amounts of time parenting their children.1
As the editorial notes, issues involving alimony and child custody have been around in the legislature for more than a decade. In 2005, then Senate President, Tom Lee, R-Brandon, directed that an amendment be added to a family court bill to require judge’s to provide equal contact with both parents when it is in the best interest of the child. The effort failed.
Back in 2013, the Tampa Bay Times noted that Senator Lee was then locked in a nearly two-year court dispute with his ex-wife to gain additional time with his children, as well as to lower his child support payments.2 The article quotes Attorney Thomas Duggar of Tallahassee as stating that “[Senator Lee] [is] . . .very much an emotional stakeholder in this issue.”
Senator Lee’s journey to alimony reform began in 1992 when he married Amy Carey. They divorced in 2003, two years after the birth of their son. Lee has since remarried. The article details Senator Lee’s original child support and timesharing arrangement and how it was modified in 2011 and in 2013.
It is interesting to reflect upon how the individual journey of one man has led to the currently proposed divorce law changes.
1 Editorial. March 11, 2016. “Editorial: Scott should veto alimony changes” Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved from: http://www.tampabay.com.
2 Varian, B. and McGrory, K. April 19, 2013. “State Senator Tom Lee takes on alimony reform” Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved from: http://www.tampabay.com.