By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Timesharing/Visitation on Thursday, April 16, 2015.
Equal timesharing and alimony reform are back again, as the Florida Legislature is in session. Competing House and Senate bills are being circulated which dramatically change alimony and may create a presumption of equal timesharing (custody).
I’ve written about the Legislature’s past attempts to reform alimony before. Senate Bill 1248 is the latest attempt to do away with permanent alimony, and create a set of guideline to automatically calculate the amount of alimony awardable, and the term for how many years alimony would last.
Both bills reform alimony. With respect to alimony amounts, the bill establishes presumptive alimony ranges. The presumptive amounts are determined by formulas based on the difference between the parties’ gross incomes and the length of the marriage. The bill also limits the duration of alimony to 25% or 75 % of the length of the marriage.
However, unlike the House bill discussed in earlier posts, the Senate bill adds something different: equal timesharing for moms and dads:
“Approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is presumed to be in the best interest of the child.”
The bill establishes a presumption that approximately equal timesharing with a child by both parents is in the child’s best interest. However, a court can order unequal timesharing if unequal timesharing is supported by written findings of fact.
Fifty-fifty timesharing between parents sounds like a great idea, and there are strong arguments for and against a presumption of equal timesharing. Here are some of the argument for and against a presumption in favor of equal timesharing:
Each year, cases are tied up in court to establish a right to see their children that they would automatically have if they were married.
An equal time presumption promote Florida’s existing policy of frequent contact after divorce.
Equal timesharing puts the burden on the parent opposing equal timesharing, changing the dynamics of custody litigation.
Equal timesharing is consistent with Florida’s existing no-fault concept.
Requiring every family to have equal timesharing is like requiring every family to wear a size 4 shoe. Not every family fits.
The presumption creates a uniform rule where the flexibility of ‘the best interest of the child’ is needed.
Requires courts to focus on QUANTITY of time instead of QUALITY of time.
Requires courts to focus on what’s best for the parents instead of what’s in the child’s best interest.
With the 2015 Legislative session roaring up north, and competing bills in the House and Senate, this is a very interesting issue to keep your eye on.