Upcoming Florida Divorce Law Changes

Upcoming Florida Divorce Law Changes

The Florida legislature is preparing to pass a new version of Florida’s child support and alimony laws that will influence more than 80,000 divorces filed every year. The bill, officially known as SB 668, ends permanent alimony and instead, establishes a formula for alimony payments based on the length of the marriage. If you’re considering getting a divorce in Florida, you should be aware of how these upcoming changes, if accepted, will influence your case. As always, a good resource for any of your divorce-related questions is a skilled Tampa divorce attorney.

What would these alimony changes mean?

If a spouse retires, becomes supported by another partner or obtains a pay raise, alimony can be changed or terminated. The law also has the potential to create a foundation for child sharing after divorce, being based on an approximately equal basis between both parents.

A rough start for this bill leads to a potential compromise

Although the legislation appeared questionable in the 2016 legislative session, senate modifications have led to initial approval from key leaders in the house. The last attempt to reform alimony happened in 2013 but it was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott at the time.

The breakthrough on this three-year battle came when Senator Tom Lee made amendments to the bill last Tuesday. His original goal was to mandate that all divorce cases start with a legal assumption that child sharing should be split equally between two parents. According to the house rules chairman, Ritch Workman, a new compromise on the child sharing provision has made it possible for this new version to pass through the Florida legislature. Parents contemplating divorce should stay tuned so as to be informed about how this can impact future decisions made in family court in Tampa.

Although it is not yet clear when this law may become active and if it will even be successful, it does appear that lawmakers are working together on compromises to achieve a final agreement. The legislation is still controversial. The primary concern of the controversy has to do with the premise associated with presumption of child custody and sharing.

Child-sharing and the proposed law

The current law calls for “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents, but the premise of equal child sharing is much more exact. There are many opponents, however, who believe that equal child sharing as a general standard should not be universally applied to all custody cases in Florida. It’s likely that the bill will continue to evolve in the next several months, so the current version may not be the final and accepted verbiage.

As it relates to alimony, the legislature’s formula would be altered to give larger awards for marriages that lasted 30 years or longer. For marriages of less than two years, alimony would not be granted in the majority of cases.   Do you have questions about divorce? Reach out to an experienced Tampa family law attorney at the Law Offices of Mark G. Rodriguez today to learn more.