Florida divorce laws may undergo major changes regarding alimony, child support and child custody now that lawmakers have passed Senate Bill 718.
The proposed bill will put a cap on the amount of alimony, or ex-spousal payment, someone can receive based on the length of the marriage and the ex-spouse’s income.
“It starts to put the onus on people who are considering getting married and having a family,” said lawyer William Falik.
According to Falik, the bill requires people to ensure that they are, or can be, financially independent, since they can no longer rely on alimony as supplemental income. The provisions make alimony limited and temporary.
The bill also allows current alimony payers to return to court to renegotiate their alimony agreements.
Attorney Jean Westin said she believes many people will take advantage of this opportunity. She said some of her clients are terrified and others are ecstatic.
“I had a client once who phrased alimony as ‘forever having to say you’re sorry,’” said Westin. “Now we know you only have to say it for a certain amount of time.”
Another part of the bill changes the way courts approach child custody. It states that equal time-sharing of a minor is in the child’s best interest.
“Rather than one parent maintaining the lifestyle for the benefit of the children, both parents are going to have to change,” Falik said. “It’s going to put the parents on more equal footing and it’s going to be an interesting change for the children.”
Gov. Rick Scott may chose to sign the bill, veto the bill or let it go into law without his signature. Provisions will go into effect July 1.