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Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Alimony Reform Bill

For the second time in three years, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed an alimony reform bill passed by the House and Senate. The reason for the veto was due mainly to a controversial child custody component in the bill.

Alimony overhaul on pause

The bill would have altered the alimony system by establishing a formula for alimony payments which would weigh the length of the marriage and the combined income of both spouses.  It also would have eliminated permanent alimony, and limited the duration of alimony to a percentage of the length of the marriage.

Scott says equal time for parents isn’t best for kids

The bill failed to pass due to a proposed child-sharing amendment.  The change to the law would have established the premise that children should spend equal amounts of time with each parent, instead of one parent having primary custody.

Scott vetoed the bill on the grounds that the child sharing concept put the desires of parents over the needs of children. Marie Gonzalez, Family Law Section Chairwoman and supporter of the veto, said that if the amendment were to have become law it would have caused more litigation. She praised the veto saying, “So when mom and dad come in front of the judge the best thing they can have is a clean slate and have a judge consider the uniqueness of the family, and also the needs of the particular family and come up and craft a good parenting plan, a good time-sharing schedule that works best for that family.”

Child custody issues to be removed from next version of the bill

Advocates for alimony reform are disappointed, and some say they will attempt to keep any child custody issue out of the next version of an alimony reform bill. In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, Family Law Reform founder Alan Frishner said, “We still believe, as an organization, child sharing is important. We just don’t want it to hurt our chances for alimony reform, which is what happened this session.”

Family law issues stemming from divorce such as child custody and alimony are complex questions. An experienced attorney can help you reach a resolution that is best for you and your loved ones.

Sources:

Scott vetoes overhaul of Florida alimony, child custody laws. (2016, April 15). Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/scott-scuttles-florida-alimony-overhaul-citing-chi/nq6Mh/

Dunkelberger, L. (2016, April 15). Scott vetoes alimony overhaul, again. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2016/04/15/scott-vetoes-alimony-overhaul-again/

5 Things to Know Before Filing for Divorce in Florida

Filing for divorce is a difficult process for most. Knowing what to expect, and having the trusted guidance of an attorney throughout the proceedings can make it a little less painful. Here are a few key things you should know before filing for divorce in Florida:

  1. Where to file: Each local circuit court has a Family Department. One spouse can file a “Petition for the Dissolution of a Marriage.” The other spouse will be served papers and then they may respond.
  2. Average length of process – Depending on the type of proceeding, a divorce can take anywhere from four months to years. An uncontested divorce—where the parties involved have no dependents and agree to the divorce and division of their assets—can be completed in four months. Initially contested cases, in which one party disputes either the divorce or its terms, are generally resolved in mediation prior to a final hearing. These take about six months, sometimes more. Contested cases take the longest, as they typically end up in court. In these cases, a year or more is not uncommon.
  3. Alimony – A court may order alimony depending on how long a couple was married, what their standard of living was, and the age and health of each spouse. Alimony can be short or long term, and may be awarded to allow one spouse an adjustment period, such as in the instance where education or retraining expenses which may be required by a spouse who did not work outside the home during the marriage. Durational or permanent alimony can be awarded, particularly for longer marriages.
  4. Assets – Assets and debts acquired over the length of the marriage are to be divided fairly between the divorcing parties. These are “marital assets.” “Non-marital assets” include whatever the couple entered into the marriage with. Each party is entitled to keep their non-marital assets, as long as they were not used to acquire marital assets (such as shared property).It is important to have all documentation – tax returns, bank statements, mortgage information, and any other significant financial information when filing
  5. Custody and Child Support – In Florida, the term “custody” is no longer used in courts. Instead, the concept is referred to as “timesharing.” When it comes to timesharing, if you and your ex-spouse cannot come to an agreement, the court will make a ruling based on what it determines the “best interest” of the child or children. Unless there is a reason one party is incapable of caring for the children, timesharing is generally divided up as a shared responsibility. Factors taken into account are each individual’s fitness as parents, preferences of the child, and ability to provide for the child. As for child support, it is determined upon a variety of factors. Florida’s standard needs table assesses child support amounts based on the child’s age, health, and child care costs. Judges use those guidelines to determine how much each parent is obligated to pay.

In a perfect world, divorce would be swift and painless. In reality, it can be a trying time. An well-versed family law attorney can provide practical levity at a time when their clients may be inclined to emotional decision-making.

Sources:

10 Things to Know About Divorce for Florida Residents, www.attorneys.com

Getting a Divorce in Florida, www.divorcenet.com, Lina Guillen

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Florida?, myfloridalaw.com