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January 13, 2022.
posted in Family Law

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

The Florida state legislature is finally circling in more closely on passing a bill that would reform permanent alimony laws.

Currently, Florida remains one of only six states that still allow permanent alimony awards during divorce trials. The legislative reform effort has appeared and disappeared on the capitol floor for the past several years, along with the bill’s presumption of 50/50 split child custody timesharing between parents.

If passed, what could this mean for you and your future in your divorce proceedings? Here at The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A., our team of experienced attorneys is prepared to fight for your rights, regardless of the bill’s passing.

What is Permanent Alimony & What is the Proposed Reform?

In Florida, as it stands now, permanent alimony is financial support provided by one spouse to another, under a judge’s discretion, after divorce until the death of either spouse – typically at the end of a long-term marriage of 17 years or more. This can either be paid in monthly periodic payments or one lump sum in a divorce.

There are ways, however, that a permanent alimony award can be modified or terminated because the details of each case vary so much. Here are a few quick factors that can determine whether or not permanent alimony should be given:

  • It should be given if one spouse is not able to be self-sustaining after the divorce.
  • It should be given if one spouse cannot afford the necessities of everyday life after the divorce.
  • It may not be given, due to 17 to 20 factors that the courts consider under Florida statute 61.08, which outlines how the spouse requesting spousal support must prove that permanent alimony is fair and reasonable in their particular circumstances.
  • The age of retirement is also to be considered for the length of permanent alimony.

The proposed reform, HB 1559, would dissolve permanent alimony and replace the award with a formula based on the length of the marriage. If passed, it would go into effect on July 1, 2022.

What Is the 50/50 Child Custody Clause in the Reform?

This is where the proposed bill gets a bit controversial. Today, child custody is determined by the discretion of a judge based on the child’s best interest.

In Florida family law, the term custody is categorized into two parts: parental responsibility and timesharing. Florida Statute 61.046 describes parental responsibility as a court-ordered relationship in which both parents together decide on major decisions that affect the child’s welfare, such as the school the child attends, the doctor the child visits, or the religion of choice. Timesharing is how much each parent spends with the child, which could be affected by where each parent lives, of course.

However, the proposed legislation of SB 250 would immediately award both parents 50/50 child custody. This timesharing agreement could also come with reduced child support payments.

Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney Today

To help you navigate through all of the complexities and changes to family law, including this potential bill surrounding permanent alimony and 50/50 child custody, contact The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A. to guide you in the right direction.

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