Understanding Recent Florida Divorce Law Changes in 2017

Florida, like many other states, is regularly passing new laws in all areas of social regulation and divorce is no exception. Especially in the last five years a handful of laws have been enacted regarding how divorces are to be treated in the state. These changes impact alimony, parenting cooperation, relocation, and custody as influenced by the presence of domestic violence.

For example, alimony was changed significantly when a 2010 Florida law change inserted three factors the family court had to consider before judging an alimony award. These included whether there was any responsibility by either of the parties regarding underage children the parties were parents of, the tax treatment of alimony to either party, and all income sources of either party that also included investments versus earned income. Interestingly, these factors were to only be considered in new alimony orders. So there was no retroactive application to existing orders already in place.

The next year, the state came back and changed alimony laws again in terms of what lengths of a marriage meant for alimony awards. Marriages were categorized into short (less than seven years), medium (7 to 17 years), and long (over 17 years). These definitions became parameters by which the courts were to estimate alimony amounts on.

When it came to retirement, Florida revised related rules and capped alimony at 20 percent of earned income. At the point that a person then achieved full retirement the alimony would then be ended. Prior to this change, those hoping to get relief in their retirement years from alimony payments were essentially left in the cold.

In regards to parents and coordination of parental rights, a parental coordinator official was introduced under state law to insert and apply decision-making rights as a proxy when a parent was unable to do so on subjects like education, submitting recommendations of motions to the family court, and apply specified limited decision making for a minor when already agreed to by parents and the court. Other  changes also included how custody filings and rights were to be addressed when a parent wanted to move farther away from an ex-spouse but still wanted custody. The law modified the matter to be addressed after a divorce was final, not during the proceedings.

Finally, Florida law dropped a new and very significant burden on a party found guilty of domestic violence by presuming such an act automatically causes harm to a child. This was triggered during convictions of misdemeanor at the first degree or more serious, i.e. felony. This was a big jump from the previous minimum threshold of a misdemeanor, third degree.

Clearly the family law on divorce and related proceeding continues to grow more complex. And that’s why experts like the attorneys at Steven Effman Law are essential to protecting one’s rights in a divorce proceeding. If you’re in the Plantation or Naples area, call today for more information.

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