A bill to change Florida’s alimony system headed to the House this April. The bill would end permanent alimony payments unless both parties agreed to it. It would also create the presumption that it would be in the best interests of a child for their parents to split timesharing equally. The House debated on the bill for over an hour and then decided not to move it forward.
The Components of Florida’s Alimony Reform Bill
The components of the proposed bill included the following:
- Permanent alimony would be terminated
- Timesharing should be divided between both parents 50/50
The proposal would have also put caps on other forms of alimony, including rehabilitative and durational. Rehabilitative alimony would be capped to five years. Durational alimony under this proposal would not exceed half the length of a marriage (with exceptions).
State Representative Anthony Rodriguez says the bill allows for the presumption of 50/50 time-sharing to be rebutted by a judge.
Legislation Decided to Pull the Alimony Reform Bill
State Senator Joe Gruters, the bill’s Senate sponsor, pulled it from consideration, stating it will come up again sometime next year. The timesharing component, the most controversial aspect of the bill, prompted questions and concerns on the House floor. Many representatives did not think it would be in a child’s best interests to spend half their time with a parent, questioning how it would be okay for an abusive or alcoholic parent to be granted those rights. State Representative Anthony Rodriguez said that would not be the case and the court would still have a say when it comes to custody and alimony matters. According to him, a judge will still need to consider the factors Florida courts consider before awarding custody.
This area of the bill was not included in the Senate’s version and is what led the reform to be vetoed the first time it passed in 2013.