Much has changed with the American family in the past few decades, and it's important for the laws that govern things such as alimony and child custody to continue to change and evolve as well. House Bill 455 has made its way through the major House committee tests and if put into law could change the way alimony is viewed in the Florida courts. Along with this, Senate Bill 250 is making progress as well and deals with how the courts will make custody decisions.
Senate Bill 250 would make it so that the default custody arrangement in Florida is a 50-50 shared custody. This means that one of the parties to a custody case would have to show that this arrangement goes against the best interests of the child. If there is no evidence to support this or the judge disagrees with the parent's argument, shared custody would be the automatic default.
This would be a welcome change for many parents who wish to avoid the every-other-weekend visitation schedule and want to continue to be a present and active parent in their children's lives. However, it's important to remember that the judge will continue to have final decision making power and will continue to look at all of the factors in the case, including any potential problems with a shared custody arrangement such as the parents living a significant distance apart and the child's preferences.
While the bill has not yet made it to the point of being a law, its reception has been mostly favorable to this point. If you have questions about what a default 50-50 shared custody arrangement could mean for your case, a family law attorney can help you better understand the implications.
Source: Sun-Sentinel, "Changes ahead in alimony, child custody," Feb. 12, 2016