Controversial Alimony and Child Support Proposal Heads to Governor for Approval
Three years, ago, Governor Rick Scott vetoed the Florida Legislature’s previous attempt to revamp Florida’s divorce law with respect to the calculation and duration of alimony. Last year, a similar measure failed to make it out of the Legislature due to a dispute between GOP lawmakers about the proposed time-sharing provision. Now, the Legislature has sent a new version of the bill to the Governor for his signature. The House recently passed the measure by a 74-38 vote. However, this version of the revised statute contains a controversial measure about children spending equal amounts of time with both parents, which the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar adamantly opposes.
Measure Contains Modified Time-Sharing Provision
In last year’s attempt at revisions to these laws, legislators argued over the language in the time-sharing proposal, which created a legal presumption that children spend equal amounts of time with each parent in all family law cases filed after October 1, 2016. Critics state that the presumption is simply inappropriate in many contested cases, and the effects that the presumption would have on child support could be devastating to low-income families, particularly when one parent has equal access to the child, but chooses not to exercise those rights – or pay for any of the child’s financial needs. Opponents of the proposal also point to increase in litigation that the presumption will create, which is a burden for people who cannot afford it. Additionally, the proposal will not impact parents who choose to fight over their children in their divorce cases at all, but may make these cases worse.
Alimony Proposal Also Draws Critics
In addition to the time-sharing provision, the proposal totally revises Florida law with respect to alimony. Critics of the changes point to potential difficulties for former stay-at-home moms who have a harder time finding a job later in life. Under the proposal currently before the governor, the length of alimony payments would depend on the number of years that the couple was married. The amount of the payments is based on the parties’ gross income. Essentially, the alimony payment would constitute the higher earner’s salary minus the other spouse’s income. Additionally, it would become much easier for spouses who pay alimony to terminate payments when they retire, turn 65, or experience another major change in circumstances, such as unemployment. The reasoning behind the changes to alimony law is to that end “forever alimony,” or alimony payments that never terminate.
Consult Vanessa L. Prieto, Your Florida Family Law Attorney, for Help Today
Whether or not the proposed legislation is signed into law by the governor, disputes over alimony, child support, and parenting time plans still arise in many cases. Allow your Fort Lauderdale family law attorney handle the legal aspects of your case, while you focus on your children and family. Consult the office of Vanessa L. Prieto today and schedule a time when we can meet with you and go over all available options in your divorce or family law case.