Florida Alimony Reform Legislation is Back Before State Legislators

Supporters of Florida Alimony reform are once again pushing legislation that will change the way alimony is calculated in the Sunshine State. This fall, Senator Tom Lee filed Senate Bill 250, a bill that contains similar language to last year’s bill that died. In this measure, there are calculation guidelines for judges to use for determining alimony which include duration of marriage and parties’ incomes.

Currently, Florida is a permanent alimony state. The spouse who earns less, or nothing at all, can be granted alimony for an indefinite length of time. A judge determines the amount of alimony based on a list of established factors, but also uses his own discretion based on how he sees the need of the party requesting alimony and the other party’s capacity to pay.

Alimony reform supporters argue the present law is unpredictable and leads to different results among judges. They contend new legislation is necessary to create uniformity and fairness because alimony would be determined based on a formula that analyzes the actual or potential income of both parties. The duration of alimony would be predicated on the length of the parties’ marriage.

Senate Bill 250 also contains child sharing language that has been controversial and will likely trigger much debate between lawmakers. The bill would create “a presumption that approximately equal time-sharing by both parents is in the best interest of the child.” This 50/50 time sharing provision is speculated to be a deal breaker and may be removed from the bill.

Under current law, a judge determines child timesharing based on factors that ultimately give him discretion to allocate time. For many years, judges awarded mothers with custody while fathers were given visitation. Reform supporters argue the current law allows a judge to create any timesharing schedule without having to explain his decision other than affirming it is in the best interest of the child. Furthermore, a judge’s decision is almost always final and cannot be reversed on appeal.

It is early for the proposed legislation, but If Senate Bill 250 passes all of the legal hurdles, it would take effect July 1, 2016.

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If you or someone you know is seeking legal guidance and representation from an experienced alimony attorney in South Florida, please contact Klein Law Group at (561) 220-6659 or fill out the contact form on our website at kleinattorneys.com. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your individual case in family law, bankruptcy, and real estate. Our offices are located in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.