For the third time, the Florida Legislature is considering a bill that would make significant changes to the body of family law in the state. This proposed legislation would end permanent spousal maintenance and would create a presumption of 50-50 parental responsibility when there are children. This bill has previously passed twice but was vetoed by the governor both times. However, other spouses are dependent on this payment and may not be able to exist without it.
There is a perception that the system of spousal maintenance in Florida is broken. Some claim that they are working well past retirement age just to cope with the financial effects of having to pay it.
Parental responsibility is also a part of the bill. Right now, a judge will decide with no preset requirements. Oftentimes, this may result in the mother getting the lion’s share of the time. There is a perception that this is unfair to fathers who may need to show why they deserve 50-50. The law would change that, and the two parties would start with 50-50 unless one of the two parents is able to prove that the presumption should not exist. This will dramatically change the way these hearings are held in Florida. The bill is highly controversial and has sparked much emotion in the state.
Those who are going through a divorce or have already divorced will need to know whether this legislation will impact them and what the effects are. A family lawyer may be able to advise whether this bill has passed and how it may change a particular situation because the lawyer tracks new developments in the law. Those in the family courts in Florida will need to stay informed about changes in the laws and whether it can mean a different arrangement for them.