“The Change is Long Overdue” ~ Florida Senate Bill 250 for Equal Shared Parenting is now law.

Permanent alimony, defined formulas are key points in new legislation

By Paul Giorgio – Producer

Justice Denied - No Jury in Family Courts - 2016

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Major changes could be coming to Florida’s alimony law.

Alan Frisher, co-founder of The Family Law Reform advocacy group, said the change is long overdue.

“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.

Source: New bill could mean big changes for alimony in Florida

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Safety of Children in Florida ~ Letter to Governor Rick Scott

Contact Florida Governor Rick Scott - 2016Letter to Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida – Safety of Children – Public Statements – The Voter’s Self Defense System – Vote Smart

By: Alcee Hastings, Sr. Patrick Murphy Lois Frankel Ted Deutch – Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20) sent the following letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott after the recent deaths of five children previously involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). In each instance, the parents charged with the safekeeping of these children had histories of neglect or abuse, but were deemed suitable custodians of the children by DCF investigators. Joining Hastings as co-signers of the letter were Representatives Ted Deutch (FL-21), Lois Frankel (FL-22) and Patrick Murphy (FL-18).

The Honorable Rick Scott
Governor
Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear Governor Scott:

The past few weeks have been marred by the deaths of several young children who previously had contact with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). When looking at the function of child protective services and the responsibilities the state has when intervening in families, the foremost precept has always been safety. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding these deaths indicate that at some point, the safety of children lost its status as the prime operating principle of DCF in South Florida.

The facts of several of these cases as reported are disturbing. Not simply for the terrible manner in which these children died, but also for the fact that there were points where had investigators engaged in meaningful intervention, these children might be alive today. These tragic deaths are a signal that something beyond investigator judgment, assessments, forms, and follow through is wrong. We have been through this cycle of death, outrage, and reform before, and we are in the midst of this cycle again.

This cycle too easily devolves into foster care panic, where front-line social workers and investigators fearful of castigation needlessly remove children from their homes. Family preservation and child trauma are important considerations when determining the type of intervention the state will impose on a family. Certainly, there are many cases which warrant in- home services and supervision over removing children from their homes. These considerations should not fall by the wayside and be replaced with a removal fits all mentality. Conversely, this cycle must not lead to yet another form or assessment for child-welfare workers to fill out that ultimately leads to no real change or reflection.

State Senator Eleanor Sobel called for hearings and you have accepted former DCF Secretary Wilkins’ resignation. However, hearings may lead only to promises and overhauls that “work” until another scandal occurs. If Florida is to have a responsive, functional child-welfare system, the response to this string of deaths must lead to comprehensive reforms both with DCF and Florida’s treatment of children in general.

Governor Scott, we urge you to convene an independent panel to study child well-being within the state and make recommendations as to how we go about making Florida a state that truly nurtures and cares for its youngest. Florida must recognize and embrace prevention measures and become proactive.

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