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Palm Coast Thursday, Apr. 8, 2021 4 days ago

Fixing the alimony system, or making it worse? Florida House to hear a new bill

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Along with eliminating permanent alimony, the bill includes a controversial child-sharing component that would require judges to begin with a legal presumption that children should split time equally between parents.

A proposal that would revamp Florida’s alimony laws, including eliminating what is known as permanent alimony, is ready to go to the House floor. The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee on April 6 voted 12-6 along party lines to approve the bill (HB 1559).

The issue, in part, has pitted many homemakers against former spouses, who contend they are forced to work long past retirement age so they can afford to make required alimony payments. Along with eliminating permanent alimony, the bill includes a controversial child-sharing component that would require judges to begin with a legal presumption that children should split time equally between parents.

“Mom and dad are equally good parents and deserve to equally partake in their children’s lives,” bill sponsor Anthony Rodriguez, R-Miami, said. “It basically says that, going into court, mom and dad each get 50% of the child’s time, and that would be the starting point.”

But opponents say judges should get more say on issues of child-sharing. “We are creating situations where it sort of is a one-size-fits-all approach to the child-sharing issue, as opposed to allowing the court to fashion a time-sharing plan that is in the best interests of the child,” Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, said. The Judiciary Committee vote positioned the bill to go to the full House. Similar legislation in the Senate needs to clear the Rules Committee before it could go to the full Senate.

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