Saturday, March 19, 2016
From The News-Press:
Southwest Florida family law attorneys said legislation that rewrites Florida's divorce statutes, which is awaiting the attention of Gov. Rick Scott, could have major impacts positive and negative on alimony, child-support payments and time-sharing of children.
The proposal, the second time lawmakers have sent what is basically an alimony overhaul to Scott, sets out a formula for judges to use when deciding alimony payments and is without a retroactivity provision that the governor blamed in part for his 2013 veto.
The bill replaces permanent alimony with new formulas based on the length of the marriage and the spouses' incomes. Those formulas help set the amount and duration of the payments.
It also advises judges to implement equal time-sharing of children between parents. But backers said it allows judges discretion to deviate from the time-sharing and alimony formulas depending on circumstances.
"Its kind of a good thing. There's been no structure for alimony," said attorney Augustin "Gus" Simmons of the Simmons Law Firm in Fort Myers of the overhaul legislation.
"It gives attorney's some sort of ability to predict ranges to their clients," he said. The current statute defining alimony says nothing about amounts, Simmons said, leading to lawyers hiring out forensic accountants to divine just what people involved in their cases make.
He said that the doing away of permanent alimony isn't surprising as changes in society have taken hold. "Permanent alimony has been on the outs for some time," he said. "Marriages are not lasting as long, people are getting married later in life."
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