April 17, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Governor Rick Scott vetoed SB 668 (Florida Politics, 4/15/16. For the second time in three years, Scott vetoed a bill that would have reformed alimony and parenting time laws that are much in need of it. His justification this time is different from what it was three years ago.
“Current law directs a judge to consider the needs and interests of the children first when determining a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule,” said Scott in his letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “This bill has the potential to upend 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.”
Scott said the state’s judges “must consider each family’s unique situation and abilities and put the best interests of the child above all else.”
That of course is so much nonsense. As the bill states, and as essentially all the social science on shared parenting demonstrates, except in rare instances, shared parenting is in children’s best interests. They do better in shared parental arrangements and their parents are less likely to be in conflict. By establishing shared parenting as the premise for parenting time orders, SB 668 would place Florida law in line with children’s interests. Contrary to Scott’s assertion, children and their parents aren’t enemies. What’s good for kids tends strongly to be what’s good for parents. Shared parenting is good for both.
What it’s not good for is the wealth of family lawyers. Unsurprisingly, Scott’s veto statement could have been cut, copied and pasted directly from their playbook. Those lawyers invariably oppose shared parenting for the very reason 70% of the rest of us support it – it reduces conflict. But divorce lawyers take conflict straight to the bank, so the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar pulled out all the stops to get Scott to veto the bill. The FLS spent as much on lobbying this legislative session as the rest of the Bar combined and virtually all of it was aimed at defeating any reform of the law on parenting time.
In short, Scott’s veto is not only bad for kids and parents alike. That alone would be enough to make it shameful. But, in refusing to allow the bill to become law, he disgracefully allowed the narrowest of interests groups to dictate state policy. The legislature passed the bill by almost a 2 – 1 margin. It passed similar legislation overwhelmingly three years ago. By now it must be clear that shared parenting corresponds to the will of the majority of Floridians. Scott’s veto is a slap in the face not only of good sense and good policy, it’s a slap at democracy, the rule of the people, by the people and for the people.
As Molly Olson and Terry Brennan pointed out in their incisive op-ed last week, this year’s presidential primaries have demonstrated just how sick Americans are of powerful, moneyed elites governing by themselves, for themselves and of themselves. Scott’s veto is more of exactly what so angers Americans from sea to shining sea.
By opting to line lawyer’s pockets at the expense of children and in direct defiance of the Legislature and the voters, Scott failed Floridians.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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