Divorce bill dies in Florida House

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 4:45 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPS NEWS/WCJB) - State House members spent more than an hour Tuesday asking questions about alimony reform before giving the legislation tentative approval, but it was all for naught.

During divorces, kids are often become weapons with parents bargaining for more or less time in exchange for a more or less alimony.

The alimony reform legislation would have set a presumption that parents will share kids equally.

“There is a parent who is an active addict. This would presume that fifty-fifty is in the best interests of the child?” Said Representative Emily Slosberg.

“So, Absolutely not,” said House sponsor Representative Alex Rodrigues in response.

The time sharing gave rise to dozens of questions on the House Floor.

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“And like in any other court case, you prove that and the judge will determine is that parent is able to care for their child or not,” said Rodrigues.

Current law outlines 17 factors judges must consider in custody awards, everything from whether there has been abuse, neglect or drug use.

“The judge will still have to abide by those seventeen to twenty factors,” said Rodrigues.

The 50/50 time sharing is not in the Senate version of the bill.

It is also what caused the reform to be vetoed the first time it passed in 2013.

The bill also caps the length of alimony to half the length of a marriage, but a last minute amendment by the sponsor increases the length for marriages lasting longer than 20 years.

“The judge may order alimony for up to seventy-five percent of the marriage rather than the fifty in the underlying bill,” said Rodrigues.

And late Tuesday afternoon, it became clear the bill could not survive the Senate Rules Committee.

Sponsor Joe Gruters pulled it for the rest of this year, saying it will be back next year.

Unclear is whether the House will spend hours debating and passing alimony reform Wednesday on the hope the legislation can be revived in the Senate.

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