Divorce Law Changes: Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Friday, January 15, 2016.

Florida is not the only state modifying its divorce laws. Illinois is amending theirs to remove the word “custody”. What’s behind the movement to modify family laws around the country?

In Illinois, the changes cover new terminology that reflects recent changes in society, such as gay marriage. For example, husband and wife are now referred to as the more gender-neutral “spouses.” Child custody is now referred to as “allocation of parenting time and responsibility.”

Florida went through something similar in 2008 when it became evident that the adversarial legal system, pitting parent against parent, was unwieldy and unnecessary for large numbers of divorcing parents wanting to reach good agreements about their children.

The effort helped to ensure that children have post-divorce parenting arrangements which promote good social and psychological adjustment.

This year, House Bill 1151 is being reviewed to further revise terminology relating to parents in our laws.

I’ve written about a variety of custody issues before. Florida’s 2008 change in the law eliminated outdated and negative terminology related to divorcing parents and their children in order to reduce animosity among family members and improve the lives for children.

Florida did this by deleting the definitions “custodial parent” or “primary residential parent”, and creating a definition for the terms “parenting plan”, “parenting plan recommendation” and “time-sharing schedule.

“Custodial parent” and “noncustodial parent”; were replaced with references to either term with the term “parent” or “obligee” or “obligor”, and “custody order” or “visitation order” were replaced with “parenting plan” and/or “time-sharing plan”.

In the current legislative session, which started this week, the effort continues to modify our marital and family laws. For instance, there is a bill to reform alimony, the evidence code, and importantly, repealing the criminal code provision which makes it a second degree misdemeanor for any unmarried man and woman to cohabit together.

The legislative session in Florida is underway, and anyone interested in marital or family law should keep their eyes open for what happens in Tallahassee.

The Bellville News-Democrat article is available here.