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New Divorce Bill Proposed in Florida

There are many different laws in Florida that can apply to divorce cases. Laws dictate how child support is calculated, how property is divided, and much more. Once again, the Florida legislature has proposed several bills that could create some major changes to two different laws that are central to many divorce cases–alimony (also called spousal support) and child-sharing (also referred to as custody).

Florida State Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) introduced Senate Bill 668, which addresses both alimony reform and child-sharing reform. In addition, House Bill 455 was introduced by Representative Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland), though it only address alimony reform and does not include any changes to child-sharing. Finally, State Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) introduced his own bill that solely seeks to change child-sharing and does not involve alimony. With all of these different bills introduced, the debate exists among legislators whether or not the two issues are related and whether they should be addressed together or separate from one another.

Proposed Changes

Alimony reform has been a hot topic in Florida for years, as state lawmakers passed a reform measure in 2013, which Governor Scott vetoed due to its retroactive effect. The new alimony reform bill is not retroactive and aims to do the following and more:

  • Establish a set formula for determining ranges for alimony awards;
  • Have the highest amount of alimony be awarded for marriages that lasted longer than 20 years;
  • Not allow alimony for marriages that were shorter than two years unless special circumstances exist;
  • Eliminate the distinction between permanent, rehabilitative, and durational alimony and create one main type of alimony governed by a strict formula.

Lawmakers supporting reform claim that current alimony laws are unfair because the traditional model of marriage has largely changed.

The child-sharing bill also claims to alter unfair assumptions by presuming at the beginning of a case that parents should share time with children 50-50. The court will then examine 22 factors to either agree with or alter the 50-50 split. Factors can include both the preferences of the parents and child, school-related activities, and time needed for constant travel between the two homes.

It is yet to be seen whether the reform measures will be approved together, separately, or not at all. It is clear, however, that divorce law reform will continue to be a hot topic in the Florida legislature.

Find out How a Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer Can Help You

Divorce laws in Florida are specific and ever-changing. While it is understandable that you are not always familiar with the changing nuances of many laws related to divorce, it is important that you have a Florida divorce attorney who is. Lawyer Alan R. Burton will guide you through every step of your divorce and educate you on how the law applies in your case. If you contact our office in Boca Raton, you will receive reliable and skilled assistance so that you can obtain the best outcome possible for you and your children. Please call today at 954-229-1660 for more information about how we can assist you.