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The Impacts Of Senate Bill 1796: Alimony & Custody Issues

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After the legislature passed SB 1796, Governor DeSantis found himself facing heavy lobbying to veto it.  Why has the bill garnered such stringent opposition?

Contentious Points 

The bill addresses child custody and alimony, and many claim it has deleterious impacts on the lesser earning spouse in a divorce:

  • It codifies the presumption that time-sharing will be a 50-50 arrangement, thereby changing child-support requirements;
  • It retroactively impacts alimony awards;
  • It has the ability to modify divorce settlements that have previously been ratified by the court.

Attorneys worry that many past cases—as many as tens of thousands– will have to be reopened as the rules change agreements that have been in effect for years. Spouses who have counted on permanent alimony payments will be told that these payments will be gradually phased out upon their former spouse’s reaching retirement age. Additionally, the ability of the court to consider adultery when making alimony determinations could be eliminated if the bill is signed into law.

Who Benefits? 

Those who disparage the bill claim that the only beneficiaries of it would be wealthy ex-spouses who, in an attempt to minimize child support obligations, will claim to want to spend more time with their children. Those same individuals would benefit by having an automatic cut-off on alimony payments at retirement age.  One post-divorce magistrate believes that women would be hugely disadvantaged by the bill’s passage.  All too often, he says, women give up a lot in order to raise children.  When they divorce, they continue to sacrifice other major issues in order to maintain custody.  To change the rules now would be like pulling the rug out from under them.

In Defense of the Bill 

As much as some oppose the bill, there are certainly some vigorous supporters.  Some say that presuming 50-50 custody gets Florida ahead of the curve nationally. Children, they say, will benefit by having both parents in their lives with greater frequency. Judges, they say, will still make determinations based on the best interests of the children, and will consider a number of factors before finalizing a 50-50 arrangement.  As far as the changes to alimony go, there are those who believe that what occurred during the course of a marriage—such as adultery—should not have a bearing on alimony.  Spousal support payments are designed to help the lesser-earning spouse obtain a greater quality of life.  The amount should be based on fiscal issues, and nothing else.  As to whether it should last a lifetime, they argue that men have a right to retire, and should not have to give up the last years of their lives working in order to support a former spouse.

Getting it Right for You 

Will passage of SB 1796 impact you? Very likely, yes.  Whether it is signed into law or not, the experienced Boca Raton divorce attorneys at WiseLieberman are here to address all of your divorce needs.  Schedule a confidential consultation today.

Resource:

tallahassee.com/story/opinion/2022/03/19/gov-desantis-veto-sb-1796-puts-our-seniors-and-children-risk-opinion/7068258001/

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