We who practice in the area of divorce law of law, as well as our clients, have been anxiously watching a bill move through the Florida government.  It has passed the Senate and now moves to the House of Representatives. The positions are polarized and those interested anxiously await what may be dramatic changes to family law in Florida.  A very good summary below is a quick read on what is at stake from http://news.yahoo.com/summary-florida-alimony-reform-bill-2013-180116350.html.

A vote from the Florida House of Representatives regarding the proposed changes to alimony and time-sharing in Florida is expected as soon as tomorrow, April 18, 2013.  The bill, better known as the 2013 Alimony Reform Bill, SB 718, passed by a 29 to 11 by the Florida Senate on April 4, 2013.  As proposed, the bill would have a significant impact on divorced and divorcing couples.  Some highlights of the bill include:

• Eliminating permanent alimony.

• Eliminating consideration of the standard of living established during the marriage as a factor in determining alimony.

• Creating presumptions for earning ability imputed to an obligee.

• Requiring written findings justifying factors regarding an alimony award or modification.

• Creating evidentiary thresholds for certain awards of alimony or modification.

• Creating a presumption that the parties will have a lower standard of living after divorce.

• Limiting alimony based on formulas that take into account relative incomes and the length of the marriage.

• Providing that alimony terminates upon the obligee reaching retirement age.

• Shifting the burden of proof regarding the need for alimony to the obligee in certain circumstances.

• Prohibiting modification of alimony based solely on a reduction in child support.

• Allowing bifurcation of a dissolution case if pending more than 180 days, and requires bifurcation if pending over 365 days.

• Allowing modification or termination of existing alimony awards.

•Providing a schedule for review of existing awards of alimony.
The bill would also impact child issues, in that it would create a presumption that it is in the best interest of the child to allow for equal time-sharing of a minor child.

If passed, the bill would take effect July 1, 2013.