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May 17, 2021.
posted in Child Custody

On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.

Efforts to revamp alimony laws in the state of Florida have been ongoing with supporters and detractors from both sides of the aisle. A Proposal HB 1559, supported and sponsored by Miami Representative Anthony Rodriguez R., was passed In the House Judiciary Committee with a 12-6 vote. While some people have argued that the bill would hurt women, others express concern over the impact on men unable to retire due to the burden of perpetual alimony payments.

The Alimony Revision Law, which has been tossed around for several years in the Florida law community, would eradicate permanent alimony and set the child custody time to 50/50 for each parent. If Florida establishes this law, they will join the other 44 states banning perpetual alimony.

What is Long-Term Alimony?

Long-term alimony can be modified with a judge’s discretion. In 1992 Florida Supreme Court ruled that retirement can count as a change of circumstances that modify alimony. Long-term or perpetual alimony can still be modified at a judge’s approval.

Anthony Rodriguez, who sponsored the Alimony Revision bill, successfully tacked two amendments onto the bill. The first amendment clarified that alimony changes made under the bill could apply to situations retroactively. The other amendment would allow for durational alimony that could be extended beyond 50% of the period of the marriage if a parent acts as the full-time caregiver to a child with special needs.

The presumption of the 50/50 child sharing model has received significant criticism. Current law leaves final custody determinations to the judge and favors decisions made in the child’s best interest. Quoting County Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff with her issues with the bill, “My biggest problem with this bill is the 50/50 child sharing; as I was a child of divorce, I can tell you that my parents never got along. The 50/50 child sharing alimony would not have worked for them; it’s a matter of the need of the child’s structure as they are growing up.”

The bill in its previous committees faced intense public criticism. Those in support of the bill and the legislation include divorcees paying alimony currently. Many of the concerned parties, along with the divorcees, expressed concern about not being able to retire because of the regular alimony payments.

The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section, which opposes the bill in its entirety, appeared at the initial hearings. The association issued an argument against both the bill and the custody provision, arguing that laws already in place address and access the unique circumstances surrounding both child sharing and alimony.

A representative of the Florida Bar’s Family Law Section, Beth Luna, commented directly on the topic. “When these Individuals enter into the courtroom, they will struggle immensely to understand how to get evidence, splitting what evidence is relevant and the rebuttable presumption. I think it has been said here there is no one-size-fits-all with all families, especially when it comes to sharing child custody.”

Contact an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney

The Proposed HB 1559 was scrapped this year, but it is expected to appear on the legislative agenda again next year. To understand the potential impact it could have on your situation, consult with an experienced Florida Family Law attorney. Contact The Law Office of Gustavo Frances, P.A., for a consultation.

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