Invoice to put off lifelong youngster assist in Florida clears first home panel

Republican lawmakers are trying to get rid of Florida’s “permanent” support system. An invoice in both chambers would limit the payment time, but a Florida law firm is rejecting the changes.

In the House of Representatives, MP Alex Andrade is carrying a bill that would prioritize the short-term support system “bridging the gap” instead of lifelong payments to an ex-spouse.

“Maintenance in the state now – Florida is lagging behind nationally,” Andrade told his colleagues. “We are one of six countries in which lifelong maintenance is still possible. And our statutes provide for a considerable amount of judicial discretion, which is not subject to a strict appeals review. “

Andrades bill reached its first stop on Wednesday. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved the move on a party line with Republicans. Andrade said the far-reaching bill seems to be doing two main things.

“It is designed to incentivize relationships after a divorce in two ways: First, by ignoring a debtor’s income, the person who pays alimony,” said the Pensacola Republican. “The income of your new spouse or partner cannot be assumed. It is her income to add to a maintenance payment to a former spouse. It also includes a 180-day review of when the creditor, the person receiving child support, has entered into what is known as a dependent relationship. “

The proposal also limits the other two forms of maintenance in Florida. Rehabilitation alimony, intended to provide temporary support to the receiving party’s financial stability, would be limited to 5 years. Permanent maintenance, a longer-term version for dependent ex-spouses, would be limited to half the duration of the marriage. Another important element of Andrade’s bill – it exempts the party who pays alimony when they reach retirement age:

“To enable people, when they reach retirement age, to retire with dignity and possibly not to be scorned and go to jail for not paying alimony,” Andrade said.

Michelle Klinger Smith is an attorney speaking on behalf of the Florida Bar’s family law department, which opposes the measure. She points out that although the definition of maintenance has been removed from the legal language, maintenance can still be granted if both parties so agree.

“If you delete the language about what maintenance is, this will lead to chaos in the future if you can agree on maintenance,” argued Klinger Smith to the House Panel.

Klinger Smith also warned the House panel that capping child support payments could lead people to try other ways to get money from an ex-spouse:

“Will this, in turn, lead these spouses to battle for more wealth knowing that their livelihoods will be limited?”

The Bar Association’s Family Law Division also opposes a provision in the draft law that presuming that underage children are simultaneously apportioned after a divorce is in the best interests of the child.

“We are decidedly against a 50:50 time division, the presumption. There is currently no guess for or against, ”said Klinger Smith. “We want to keep it that way. Every case is unique. “

Several speakers including Natalie Willis came to Tallahassee to support the bill.

“I am a lifelong child support payer. I got divorced 13 years ago because my ex-husband refused to work or take care of the house, “Willis told lawmakers. “I didn’t even know what maintenance was until I was forced to pay a large amount that I couldn’t handle. Soon I lost my business, my house, and my car. At my lowest point, I had to borrow money for gas so I could go to work. “

Willis shared her story, which included a detail that was also found in the accounts of several other speakers – her ex-spouse purposely forfeited income in order to continue receiving child support.

“I’ve never been against maintenance. I wanted to help my ex-husband. I hoped that we could stay friendly to each other because we were in love once and have three children, ”said Willis visibly emotionally on the podium. “But for the past 13 years my ex has been purposely unemployed.”

An identical Senate bill, sponsored by Republican Kelli Stargel, is awaiting its first hearing.

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