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DeVoe Law Firm Trials & Transactions
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Alimony and Custody Laws Face Big Changes

2 years ago, a bill was introduced that would change alimony laws completely. Permanent alimony (monthly payments forever) would be completely removed, payments would decrease over time (eventually stopping altogether), short-term marriages would not be eligible for alimony at all, and several other changes.

Critics cried foul, saying that the bill was especially harmful to women, who are almost always the recipients of alimony payments. The bill was supported by the Florida State Bar and quite a few lawmakers, so it was pushed into the system. It died just recently, however, when Senator Tom Lee insisted on amending the bill to require 50/50 timesharing for child custody. An agreement could not be made in time, the House adjourned, and the Senate refused to take up a companion bill.

It is expected that these alimony changes will be pushed back through the legal system, but many out there are hoping that the 50/50 addition does not get made as well. While it certainly sounds reasonable for both parents to get the exact same amount of time with their child, in most divorce cases, one parent is definitely more suited to being the primary parent, and forcing a hard 50/50 rule removes a lot of the flexibility from the courts in being able to make case-by-case determinations.

Some speculation has been made that Senator Lee made the request out of a desire to see the child custody system look more favorably on fathers, who have historically gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to custody. The problem there is that the system has actually shifted quite a bit in recent years, and does not seem to favor mothers as heavily as it once did, so forcing a strict rule to help correct a balance that was already in the process of being corrected might end up causing more problems than it solves.

There will always be people out there who will fight changes to our laws, but to many individuals, these proposed changes to alimony are a sight for sore eyes. Don’t be surprised if they end up in new bills scattered on lawmakers’ desks before too long.


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