The way divorce works in Florida would change significantly if a bill before the state House eventually becomes the law. Specifically, it would affect spousal support and child custody matters.
A new way to end permanent spousal support
Awards of permanent spousal support (commonly known as alimony) are rare, but they do happen. Usually, alimony without a specified end date occurs when one spouse has no ability to support themselves financially and does not expect ever to be able to do so. Currently, state law allows someone paying permanent alimony to ask the court to end or reduce the payments when the payor reaches the normal age of retirement for their job. The bill would change this to add a third option — ending permanent alimony when the payor reaches the age at which they qualify for full Social Security benefits.
It would also put caps on other forms of alimony called durational alimony and rehabilitative alimony. The latter is temporary assistance to give the recipient spouse time to become financially independent, i.e., get a college degree or restart their career. The bill would limit rehabilitative alimony to five years. And it would change durational alimony, which currently lasts as long as the marriage did, to half the length of the marriage.
Presuming that 50/50 child custody is best for Lakeland children
Currently, the law directs family law judges to consider several factors when deciding on a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests. This bill would upend the rules to create a presumption that divorcing parents should share child custody 50/50. The judge would have to be convinced that shared custody is not in the children’s interests because the other parent is unfit or some practical consideration.
When choosing a divorce lawyer, find one who keeps on top of changes in the law and can explain how they can affect your case.