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Changes to Florida Divorce Laws

Florida law guides divorce between separating spouses in the state. However, recent concerns regarding alimony, child support, etc. have spurred Florida legislators to take another look at Florida divorce laws. Several proposals for changes to Florida divorce laws now sit patiently awaiting review in the Florida state legislature. What can you expect as a resident of Florida? Here is a quick overview of what may change and how.

Alimony Reform

Alimony is often a highly contested issue in Florida divorces, particularly in high net worth cases. While some claim that alimony is a necessary and important part of post-divorce life, others are concerned that Florida’s alimony laws need to be modernized. Some even claim that alimony laws unfairly favor women over men. In 2013, the Florida legislature passed an alimony reform bill, but it was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. Now in 2015, Florida legislators are trying again. On the table for alimony reform: eliminating permanent alimony and other types of alimony, leaving only one type, establishing a formula for setting alimony amounts, and provisions to modify or eliminate alimony payments in certain circumstances.

The 50/50 Child-Sharing Presumption

Florida legislators are also taking a look at child-sharing and timesharing provisions in Florida family law. In a highly contested proposed provision, the Florida state House of Representatives have been reviewing the implementation of a presumption of 50/50 timesharing in divorce cases, meaning that in every divorce case in which there are shared children, the court would begin with the assumption that the parents will each have custody half of the time. While the House seems only lukewarm on this provision, it still remains in the Senate bills, and reportedly has yet to be heard in a committee. Supporters are excited for the plan, purportedly stating that the presumption will promote more realistic roles of both spouses in childrearing, however, opponents claim that the presumption provision is merely a veiled attempt to lower child-support payments.

Grandparent Visitation

Finally, Florida legislators are responding to calls from groups who call themselves “alienated grandparents.” Grandparents often still desire to see their grandchildren, even if the parents of their grandchildren have divorced or separated. However, one spouse may prevent visitation from the parents of his or her ex-spouse. Grandparents in this boat claim that they are being deprived of an opportunity to bond with their family but are not able to turn to the law for help. Taking its cue from a few other states, Florida legislators are considering laws assisting grandparents in finding ways to reconnect with grandchildren. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that legislators must tread carefully on this topic; the fundamental right of parents to rear their children as the parents see fit is quite broad.

In Florida, divorce laws are often in flux. But at Schwartz | White, our experienced Boca Raton family law attorneys are available to assist you in navigating recent developments in family law. If you are in the middle of (or are anticipating) a family law dispute, consider getting some help. Call 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.

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