TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House spent more than an hour asking questions about maintenance reform on Tuesday before the legislation gave the preliminary green light, but it was all in vain.
Senate sponsor of the law, Senator Joe Gruters, pulled the legislation out of scrutiny hours later when it became clear the law would not survive the Senate committee and said it will likely reappear next year.
During divorce proceedings, children often become arms in litigation as parents spend more or less time negotiating with them in order to receive more or less child support from their spouses.
The legislation postponed on Tuesday would have suggested that parents share their children equally. The time-share component of the bill, which was not part of the Senate draft, raised dozens of questions on the floor of the house.
“There is one parent who is actively addicted,” said MP Emily Slosberg. “Would this assume that 50/50 is in the best interests of the child?”
MP Alex Rodrigues, who sponsored the House version of the bill, said it was not. Instead, he said, the court would still play a role when it came to custody and alimony.
“As in any other legal process, do you prove that and the judge will decide whether or not that parent is able to care for their child?” Said Rodrigues.
Under current law, judges must consider 17 factors when incarcerating, including whether there has been a history of abuse, neglect or drug use.
“The judge still has to stick to those seventeen to twenty factors,” said Rodrigues.
Although the time-sharing component was not part of the Senate version of the bill, it resulted in the reform being vetoed for the first time in 2013.
Legislation would also limit the length of alimony to half the length of the marriage, but a last-minute change would extend the length of alimony for marriages that lasted longer than 20 years.
“The judge can order alimony for up to 75 percent of the marriage instead of (50 percent) in the underlying bill,” Rodrigues said.
Though the discussion was spirited, it became a moot point on Tuesday afternoon when it became clear she wasn’t going to get past a Senate committee.
It is unclear whether the House will attempt to resume discussions on the legislation on Wednesday.
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