Home panel approves everlasting alimony repeal regardless of pushback from legislation teams
A repeated bill to revise Florida’s maintenance laws went through the first committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday debuted in legislation from 2021 this week.
The application (HB 1559) sponsored by Miami Republican Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, passed the House Subcommittee on Civil Justice and Property Rights in a 10-6 vote with Republican Representative from Vero Beach. Erin Grall break with other members of their party.
Legislation, which has come into force in recent years, would eliminate permanent alimony payments and set the presumption of parental custody sharing at 50/50. If passed, Florida would join 44 other states in enacting law prohibiting perpetual maintenance.
Currently, the long-term alimony can be changed at a judge’s discretion. ON 1992 Florida Supreme Court judgment found that retirement is seen as a change in circumstances that can alter livelihoods.
“I appreciate working with either of you to improve this bill,” said Rodriguez. “I understand this is not a one size fits all. This reform is necessary. We are one of the few states that still have a steady upkeep on the books. “
The legislation has been criticized by the legislature across the aisle for presuming a split of the custody time on a 50/50 split. Under current law, custody is at the judge’s discretion, “based on the best interests of the child”.
“Sometimes some pro-se litigants don’t even understand how to refute this presumption,” said the Palm Beach Democratic representative. Emily Slosberg said. “You’re not sure what that means … and often 50/50 really isn’t in the child’s best interests.”
The custody provision of the bill was why Grall, along with her Democratic counterparts, had rejected it.
“I support the maintenance provisions of this law, but I am very concerned about the 50/50 presumption that children will be shared,” said Grall. “I think the current standard of ‘in the best interests of the child’ is important, and I think as lawmakers we decide what is in the best interests of each child? Is that an appropriate political choice because that is exactly what it does? “
In particular, a 50/50 time division in custody agreements can be accompanied by a reduced child support.
The bill faced heated public statements.
Opponents argue that cutting child support would leave people who might be caring for children in compromising positions, and the legislation only seeks to benefit the main breadwinner, unfairly putting the other person at a disadvantage.
Barbara DeVane, for the FlThe National Organization for Women in Orida said the organization is concerned about the potential of the law to disproportionately affect women, especially older women, at a time when the pandemic has created boundaries for jobs.
“I think this is like my ninth or tenth year of being against this bill,” DeVane said. “At a time when we are in a COVID crisis and three out of four women have left work to go home and care for their children, you are again discussing a bill that makes women and children strong and disproportionate will concern. ”
Florida Bar’s Family Law Department, opposing the bill, issued a statement against both their maintenance measures and custody provisions, arguing that the laws already in place take into account the particular circumstances of the case.
“We believe these sweeping bills will ultimately harm families in Florida,” the statement said. “Together and as individual family law lawyers, we advocate laws that protect strong, healthy families and, above all, put the needs of children first. and unfortunately this legislation undermines that protection. “
The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers joined other opposition groups.
Proponents of the legislation included several divorced people who are currently paying alimony. Some shared concerns that they might not be able to retire because of the continuous alimony.
“I can’t retire because I have child support every 30 days,” he said Deborah Shultz, who pays alimony to her ex-husband. “I have six grandchildren now and I cannot even enjoy being part of their life while he is living life to the fullest. The law has to change. “
Florida Family Fairness expressed support for the bill. Several people who also spoke on the House Committee appeared on Monday evening Senate sessionwho heard testimony but ran out of time to vote on legislation.
Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters sponsored this year’s Senate bill (SB 1922).
Maintenance reform has been a hot topic in recent legislative sessions. In 2016, a reform law reached the then government. Rick scott, WHO has entered a veto over concern it would harm children.
Last year the proposal (HB 843) was sponsored by Rep. Alex Andrade. In the past the Pensacola Republicans compared permanent alimony to “forced labor” by requiring payers to work beyond retirement age.
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