Permanent alimony, defined formulas are key points in new legislation
By Paul Giorgio – Producer
MELBOURNE, Fla. – Major changes could be coming to Florida’s alimony law.
“I think our laws are really archaic,” he said. “We haven’t changed our laws for the last 50 years in essence and now it’s time to really make the change.”
Frisher said there are five key points to the proposed law. In addition to the removal of permanent alimony and the ability to modify or eliminate alimony at retirement, the bill also defines a formula judges must use when determining settlements.
“We want to be able to give judges discretion, but we don’t want to give them so much discretion that there’s no consistency from one sector to another, because right now there’s no predictability or consistency,” Frisher said.
Currently if someone paying alimony remarries, the courts can view the new spouse’s income as ‘family income’ that is eligible for an upward modification in payment.
Under the current law, modification is also possible if a payer earns a greater yearly salary. Payers cannot be brought back to court under the new bill.
A similar bill was vetoed in 2013 by Gov. Rick Scott. That bill had language that would have allowed it to apply retroactively. Scott said it would have unanticipated results. HB 943 has eliminated that language.
Children are human beings, not belongings. Children need the love, caring, nurturing, and guidance of both their mother and father throughout their lives. “Awarding” custody of a child to either the mother or father in divorce creates an atmosphere of contempt and competition, but more importantly it deprives the child of the benefit of the day to day nurturing of either their mother or father.
The Boston-based National Parents Organization believes the state’s child custody law is outdated and does not fit the modern family. The overhaul bill would allow children to spend more time with the non-custodial parent, typically the father.
President of the National Parents Organization Ned Holstein told 22News, “It decreases hostility and bitterness between parents. It treats them more fairly. It encourages judges to favor a parent who is cooperating with the other parent.”
Opponents believe the bill is centered too much on the parents and does not put enough emphasis on the children. Women’s Bar Association Kim Doughterty said, “Parents who deserve custody will get custody if it’s in the best interest of the child.”
Encourage family court judges to award at least one-third of the parenting time to each parent after the divorce. Give judges more power to punish parents who do not comply with time orders. One state lawmaker told 22News the state should slowly implement changes to the child custody law.
“You move things gradually. You don’t want to necessarily throw the family court into a tizzy,” said State Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk).
Much of the bill is inspired by a state working group established by former Governor Deval Patrick.