Equal Timesharing Law Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Timesharing/Visitation on Thursday, March 3, 2016.

Eight more days left in this legislative session, and the new alimony/equal timesharing bill is scheduled for a 3rd reading. But, some last minute changes to the language have been added.

I’ve been following the updates to Florida’s alimony and timesharing laws weekly while the legislature is in session. The alimony and timesharing bill has opposition in the House, which is why the Senate is trying to soften the language.

The amended version states:

In establishing a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule, the court shall begin with the premise that a minor child should spend approximately equal amounts of time with each parent. Using this premise as a starting point, the court shall formulate a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule taking into account the best interest of the child after considering all of the relevant factors in subsection (3)

The former version of the new bill stated:

Absent good cause, it is the public policy of this state that the best interest of each minor child is served by a time-sharing schedule that provides for substantially equal time-sharing with both parents.

A lot of people are opposing the legislation. They insist the proposed changes will hurt women and children and that the legislation could reopen already settled divorce cases, dragging people back into court.

The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar supports the alimony changes, arguing that it will bring consistency to cases where awards can vary widely from judge-to-judge. But the Section has argued in favor of dealing with custody issues separately.

The last go-around, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a 2013 bill that would have applied to divorces already granted. That retroactivity was later removed, but alimony legislation died in the acrimonious 2015 session.

After this past Tuesday’s vote, the bill is ready for a full Senate vote. Meanwhile, the House alimony legislation (HB 455) steers clear of child custody issues but matches the Senate on a range of other changes.

For example, the House alimony proposal gives judges guidelines and a formula for determining the amount and duration of alimony, along with conditions where modifying an award can be made.

It eliminates many of types of alimony that are familiar to couples. Bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational would be scrapped, along with permanent alimony. The bill also allows alimony payers to seek payment modifications if their divorced spouses get 10% increases in income.

It is an interesting time for family law in Florida. This is the eighth week of 2016 Legislative Session, and there are only 8 Days until the End of Session.

The Palm Beach Post article is here.