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Proposed changes to child custody, alimony vetoed in Florida

Any changes in laws that affect Florida families are likely to have both fierce supporters and harsh critics. This was certainly the case for a proposed bill that would have made significant changes to both child custody and alimony laws in the state.

If passed, the bill would have made two major changes: ending permanent alimony and allowing for the presumption of equal parenting time in custody cases. However, Gov. Rick Scott recently vetoed the bill.

Whether you supported or opposed the changes that would have come with the approval of this bill, the fact is that they would have had a considerable impact on people all across the state. For better or worse, however, family legal matters will be resolved in accordance with current laws.

What this means for you if you are going through a child custody dispute, for example, is that there will be no presumption that parents should have equal custody. But this does not mean the courts will swing the other way and assume that one person having custody is best, either.

Current laws support "frequent and continuing contact with both parents." In other words, the courts are to order parents to share responsibilities of a child when it is in the best interests of the child to do so.

This doesn't mean equal parenting time, and it doesn't mean shared parenting will be awarded in every case. Rather, the laws leave parenting time specifics in the hands of judges who will assess each situation on an individual basis.

Again, whether you agreed with the presumption of equal parenting time or not, the fact is child custody laws in the state are not changing at the moment. This means that your parenting plan will be established individually and based on the specifics of your unique circumstances.

Considering all that is at stake in these situations, it can be essential that you have the support of an attorney who is familiar with family laws in Florida and navigating the complicated legal process.

Source: Miami Herald, "Gov. Rick Scott vetoes alimony bill, cites potential harm to children," Steve Bousquet, April 15, 2016

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