Divorce and child custody

Florida state lawmakers are working on legislation that would change the state's current alimony laws. Members of the state Senate and House have been trying to reach a compromise on their individual bills that would change how alimony payments are determined by Florida courts.

These proposed changes seek to eliminate permanent alimony as well as rehabilitative and durational alimony. These would be replaced with a single type of alimony: post-dissolution.

The proposed changes would implement a formula for determining alimony based on how long a couple was married. In most cases, alimony wouldn't be awarded if the couple was married for under two years. The largest alimony awards would apply in cases where the couple had been married for at least two decades.

Proposed Child-Sharing Changes Are Now Part of the Debate

However, as with much legislation at every level of government, other issues have become intertwined with the original intent of the bills. In this case, the issue is the determination of child custody.

A state senator has proposed a bill that would designate a legal presumption that there should be a 50/50 child custody arrangement between divorced parents. Although judges can adjust this percentage based on a number of factors unique to each family, the proposed child-sharing provision is opposed by groups including the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. Leaders in Florida's House have said that they don't believe that the child-sharing provision should be included in the alimony bill.

Whether the proposed child-sharing provision derails the proposed changes to alimony in Florida, becomes part of a compromise bill agreed on by the two houses or goes on to become a separate piece of legislation remains to be seen. Laws related to divorce, spousal and child support, and child custody change throughout the country all the time based, in large part, on the changing views of family law issues. Family law attorneys keep up to date on family law in their particular states so that they can use the current laws for the benefit of their clients.

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