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Florida Legislature Passes Alimony Reform Bill

March 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

 

 

The Florida Legislature has passed SB668 which would change alimony law in Florida.  If signed by the Governor, the Bill will do away with permanent alimony and set formulas for the determination of alimony based upon the parties incomes and the length of the marriage.  This would take away a lot of the discretion that presently exists for a court to make a case by case determination of alimony and have a court follow presumptive guidelines as to duration and amount, with very limited exceptions, instead.

The bill states as follows:

1  
    2         An act relating to family law; amending s. 61.071,
    3         F.S.; requiring a court to consider certain alimony
    4         factors and make specific written findings of fact
    5         under certain circumstances; prohibiting a court from
    6         using certain presumptive alimony guidelines in
    7         calculating alimony pendente lite; amending s. 61.08,
    8         F.S.; defining terms; requiring a court to make
    9         specified initial written findings in a dissolution of
   10         marriage proceeding where a party has requested
   11         alimony; requiring a court to make specified findings
   12         before ruling on a request for alimony; providing for
   13         determinations of presumptive alimony amount range and
   14         duration range; providing presumptions concerning
   15         alimony awards depending on the duration of marriages;
   16         providing for imputation of income in certain
   17         circumstances; specifying exceptions to the guidelines
   18         for the amount and duration of alimony awards;
   19         providing for awards of nominal alimony in certain
   20         circumstances; providing for taxability and
   21         deductibility of alimony awards; prohibiting a
   22         combined award of alimony and child support from
   23         constituting more than a specified percentage of a
   24         payor’s net income; authorizing the court to order a
   25         party to protect an alimony award by specified means;
   26         providing for termination of an award; authorizing a
   27         court to modify or terminate the amount of an initial
   28         alimony award; prohibiting a court from modifying the
   29         duration of an alimony award; providing for payment of
   30         awards; amending s. 61.13, F.S.; specifying a premise
   31         that a minor child should spend approximately equal
   32         amounts of time with each parent; revising a finite
   33         list of factors that a court must evaluate when
   34         establishing or modifying parental responsibility or a
   35         parenting plan; requiring a court order to be
   36         supported by written findings of fact under certain
   37         circumstances; providing for prospective application
   38         of provisions of the act which relate to parenting
   39         plans and time-sharing; amending s. 61.14, F.S.;
   40         prohibiting a court from changing the duration of
   41         alimony; authorizing a party to pursue an immediate
   42         modification of alimony in certain circumstances;
   43         revising factors to be considered in determining
   44         whether an existing award of alimony should be reduced
   45         or terminated because of an alleged supportive
   46         relationship; providing for burden of proof for claims
   47         concerning the existence of supportive relationships;
   48         providing for the effective date of a reduction or
   49         termination of an alimony award; providing that the
   50         remarriage of an alimony obligor is not a substantial
   51         change in circumstance; providing that the financial
   52         information of a spouse of a party paying or receiving
   53         alimony is inadmissible and undiscoverable; providing
   54         an exception; providing for modification or
   55         termination of an award based on a party’s retirement;
   56         providing a presumption upon a finding of a
   57         substantial change in circumstance; specifying factors
   58         to be considered in determining whether to modify or
   59         terminate an award based on a substantial change in
   60         circumstance; providing for a temporary suspension of
   61         an obligor’s payment of alimony while his or her
   62         petition for modification or termination is pending;
   63         providing for an award of attorney fees and costs for
   64         unreasonably pursuing or defending a modification of
   65         an award; providing for an effective date of a
   66         modification or termination of an award; amending s.
   67         61.30, F.S.; requiring that a child support award be
   68         adjusted to reduce the combined alimony and child
   69         support award under certain circumstances; creating s.
   70         61.192, F.S.; providing for motions to advance the
   71         trial of certain actions if a specified period has
   72         passed since the initial service on the respondent;
   73         amending ss. 61.1827 and 409.2579, F.S.; conforming
   74         cross-references; providing applicability; providing
   75         an effective date.
   76          
   77  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   78  
   79         Section 1. Section 61.071, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   80  read:
   81         61.071 Alimony pendente lite; suit money.—In every
   82  proceeding for dissolution of the marriage, a party may claim
   83  alimony and suit money in the petition or by motion, and if the
   84  petition is well founded, the court shall allow a reasonable sum
   85  therefor. If a party in any proceeding for dissolution of
   86  marriage claims alimony or suit money in his or her answer or by
   87  motion, and the answer or motion is well founded, the court
   88  shall allow a reasonable sum therefor. After determining there
   89  is a need for alimony and that there is an ability to pay
   90  alimony, the court shall consider the alimony factors in s.
   91  61.08(4)(b)1.-14. and make specific written findings of fact
   92  regarding the relevant factors that justify an award of alimony
   93  under this section. The court may not use the presumptive
   94  alimony guidelines in s. 61.08 to calculate alimony under this
   95  section.
   96         Section 2. Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   97  read:
   98         (Substantial rewording of section. See
   99         s. 61.08, F.S., for present text.)
  100         61.08 Alimony.—
  101         (1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, unless the
  102  context otherwise requires, the term:
  103         (a)1. “Gross income” means recurring income from any source
  104  and includes, but is not limited to:
  105         a. Income from salaries.
  106         b. Wages, including tips declared by the individual for
  107  purposes of reporting to the Internal Revenue Service or tips
  108  imputed to bring the employee’s gross earnings to the minimum
  109  wage for the number of hours worked, whichever is greater.
  110         c. Commissions.
  111         d. Payments received as an independent contractor for labor
  112  or services, which payments must be considered income from self
  113  employment.
  114         e. Bonuses.
  115         f. Dividends.
  116         g. Severance pay.
  117         h. Pension payments and retirement benefits actually
  118  received.
  119         i. Royalties.
  120         j.Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary
  121  and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
  122         k. Interest.
  123         l. Trust income and distributions which are regularly
  124  received, relied upon, or readily available to the beneficiary.
  125         m. Annuity payments.
  126         n. Capital gains.
  127         o. Any money drawn by a self-employed individual for
  128  personal use that is deducted as a business expense, which
  129  moneys must be considered income from self-employment.
  130         p. Social security benefits, including social security
  131  benefits actually received by a party as a result of the
  132  disability of that party.
  133         q. Workers’ compensation benefits.
  134         r. Unemployment insurance benefits.
  135         s. Disability insurance benefits.
  136         t. Funds payable from any health, accident, disability, or
  137  casualty insurance to the extent that such insurance replaces
  138  wages or provides income in lieu of wages.
  139         u. Continuing monetary gifts.
  140         v. Income from general partnerships, limited partnerships,
  141  closely held corporations, or limited liability companies;
  142  except that if a party is a passive investor, has a minority
  143  interest in the company, and does not have any managerial duties
  144  or input, the income to be recognized may be limited to actual
  145  cash distributions received.
  146         w. Expense reimbursements or in-kind payments or benefits
  147  received by a party in the course of employment, self
  148  employment, or operation of a business which reduces personal
  149  living expenses.
  150         x. Overtime pay.
  151         y. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
  152         z.Spousal support received from a previous marriage.
  153         aa.Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the
  154  gain is nonrecurring.
  155         2. “Gross income” does not include:
  156         a. Child support payments received.
  157         b. Benefits received from public assistance programs.
  158         c. Social security benefits received by a parent on behalf
  159  of a minor child as a result of the death or disability of a
  160  parent or stepparent.
  161         d. Earnings or gains on retirement accounts, including
  162  individual retirement accounts; except that such earnings or
  163  gains shall be included as income if a party takes a
  164  distribution from the account. If a party is able to take a
  165  distribution from the account without being subject to a federal
  166  tax penalty for early distribution and the party chooses not to
  167  take such a distribution, the court may consider the
  168  distribution that could have been taken in determining the
  169  party’s gross income.
  170         3.a. For income from self-employment, rent, royalties,
  171  proprietorship of a business, or joint ownership of a
  172  partnership or closely held corporation, the term “gross income”
  173  equals gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses, as
  174  defined in sub-subparagraph b., which are required to produce
  175  such income.
  176         b. “Ordinary and necessary expenses,” as used in sub
  177  subparagraph a., does not include amounts allowable by the
  178  Internal Revenue Service for the accelerated component of
  179  depreciation expenses or investment tax credits or any other
  180  business expenses determined by the court to be inappropriate
  181  for determining gross income for purposes of calculating
  182  alimony.
  183         (b) “Potential income” means income which could be earned
  184  by a party using his or her best efforts and includes potential
  185  income from employment and potential income from the investment
  186  of assets or use of property. Potential income from employment
  187  is the income which a party could reasonably expect to earn by
  188  working at a locally available, full-time job commensurate with
  189  his or her education, training, and experience. Potential income
  190  from the investment of assets or use of property is the income
  191  which a party could reasonably expect to earn from the
  192  investment of his or her assets or the use of his or her
  193  property in a financially prudent manner.
  194         (c)1. “Underemployed” means a party is not working full
  195  time in a position which is appropriate, based upon his or her
  196  educational training and experience, and available in the
  197  geographical area of his or her residence.
  198         2. A party is not considered “underemployed” if he or she
  199  is enrolled in an educational program that can be reasonably
  200  expected to result in a degree or certification within a
  201  reasonable period, so long as the educational program is:
  202         a. Expected to result in higher income within the
  203  foreseeable future.
  204         b. A good faith educational choice based upon the previous
  205  education, training, skills, and experience of the party and the
  206  availability of immediate employment based upon the educational
  207  program being pursued.
  208         (d) “Years of marriage” means the number of whole years,
  209  beginning from the date of the parties’ marriage until the date
  210  of the filing of the action for dissolution of marriage.
  211         (2) INITIAL FINDINGS.—When a party has requested alimony in
  212  a dissolution of marriage proceeding, before granting or denying
  213  an award of alimony, the court shall make initial written
  214  findings as to:
  215         (a) The amount of each party’s monthly gross income,
  216  including, but not limited to, the actual or potential income,
  217  and also including actual or potential income from nonmarital or
  218  marital property distributed to each party.
  219         (b) The years of marriage as determined from the date of
  220  marriage through the date of the filing of the action for
  221  dissolution of marriage.
  222         (3) ALIMONY GUIDELINES.—After making the initial findings
  223  described in subsection (2), the court shall calculate the
  224  presumptive alimony amount range and the presumptive alimony
  225  duration range. The court shall make written findings as to the
  226  presumptive alimony amount range and presumptive alimony
  227  duration range.
  228         (a) Presumptive alimony amount range.—The low end of the
  229  presumptive alimony amount range shall be calculated by using
  230  the following formula:
  231  
  232  (0.015 x the years of marriage) x the difference between the
  233  monthly gross incomes of the parties
  234  
  235  The high end of the presumptive alimony amount range shall be
  236  calculated by using the following formula:
  237  
  238  (0.020 x the years of marriage) x the difference between the
  239  monthly gross incomes of the parties
  240  
  241  For purposes of calculating the presumptive alimony amount
  242  range, 20 years of marriage shall be used in calculating the low
  243  end and high end for marriages of 20 years or more. In
  244  calculating the difference between the parties’ monthly gross
  245  income, the income of the party seeking alimony shall be
  246  subtracted from the income of the other party. If the
  247  application of the formulas to establish a guideline range
  248  results in a negative number, the presumptive alimony amount
  249  shall be $0.
  250         (b) Presumptive alimony duration range.—The low end of the
  251  presumptive alimony duration range shall be calculated by using
  252  the following formula:
  253  
  254  0.25 x the years of marriage
  255  
  256  The high end of the presumptive alimony duration range shall be
  257  calculated by using the following formula:
  258  
  259  0.75 x the years of marriage
  260  
  261         (c)Exceptions to alimony guidelines.—
  262         1. If a court establishes the duration of the alimony award
  263  at 50 percent or less of the length of the marriage, the court
  264  shall use the actual years of the marriage, up to a maximum of
  265  25 years, to calculate the high end of the presumptive alimony
  266  amount range.
  267         2. A court may award alimony in an amount that equalizes
  268  the income of the parties until the obligor retires upon
  269  reaching the age for eligibility for full retirement benefits
  270  under s. 216 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 416, or
  271  upon reaching the customary retirement age for his or her
  272  occupation if:
  273         a. The duration of the marriage was at least 20 years;
  274         b. Pursuant to the mutual agreement or consent of the
  275  parties to the marriage, one spouse substantially refrained from
  276  economic, educational, or employment opportunities primarily for
  277  the purpose of contributing to the marriage through homemaking
  278  or child care activities; and
  279         c. The spouse seeking alimony even with additional
  280  education faces dramatically reduced opportunities to advance in
  281  a career.
  282  
  283  This subparagraph should not be applied in a manner that
  284  discourages a spouse from seeking additional education or
  285  employment opportunities.
  286         (4) ALIMONY AWARD.—
  287         (a) Marriages of 2 years or less.—For marriages of 2 years
  288  or less, there is a rebuttable presumption that no alimony shall
  289  be awarded. The court may award alimony for a marriage with a
  290  duration of 2 years or less only if the court makes written
  291  findings that there is a clear and convincing need for alimony,
  292  there is an ability to pay alimony, and that the failure to
  293  award alimony would be inequitable. The court shall then
  294  establish the alimony award in accordance with paragraph (b).
  295         (b) Marriages of more than 2 years.—Absent an agreement of
  296  the parties, alimony shall presumptively be awarded in an amount
  297  within the alimony amount range calculated in paragraph (3)(a).
  298  Absent an agreement of the parties, alimony shall presumptively
  299  be awarded for a duration within the alimony duration range
  300  calculated in paragraph (3)(b). In determining the amount and
  301  duration of the alimony award, the court shall consider all of
  302  the following factors upon which evidence was presented:
  303         1. The financial resources of the recipient spouse,
  304  including the actual or potential income from nonmarital or
  305  marital property or any other source and the ability of the
  306  recipient spouse to meet his or her reasonable needs
  307  independently.
  308         2. The financial resources of the payor spouse, including
  309  the actual or potential income from nonmarital or marital
  310  property or any other source and the ability of the payor spouse
  311  to meet his or her reasonable needs while paying alimony.
  312         3. The standard of living of the parties during the
  313  marriage with consideration that there will be two households to
  314  maintain after the dissolution of the marriage and that neither
  315  party may be able to maintain the same standard of living after
  316  the dissolution of the marriage.
  317         4. The equitable distribution of marital property,
  318  including whether an unequal distribution of marital property
  319  was made to reduce or alleviate the need for alimony.
  320         5. Both parties’ income, employment, and employability,
  321  obtainable through reasonable diligence and additional training
  322  or education, if necessary, and any necessary reduction in
  323  employment due to the needs of an unemancipated child of the
  324  marriage or the circumstances of the parties.
  325         6. Whether a party could become better able to support
  326  himself or herself and reduce the need for ongoing alimony by
  327  pursuing additional educational or vocational training along
  328  with all of the details of such educational or vocational plan,
  329  including, but not limited to, the length of time required and
  330  the anticipated costs of such educational or vocational
  331  training.
  332         7. Whether one party has historically earned higher or
  333  lower income than the income reflected at the time of trial and
  334  the duration and consistency of income from overtime or
  335  secondary employment.
  336         8. Whether either party has foregone or postponed economic,
  337  educational, or employment opportunities during the course of
  338  the marriage.
  339         9. Whether either party has caused the unreasonable
  340  depletion or dissipation of marital assets.
  341         10. The amount of temporary alimony and the number of
  342  months that temporary alimony was paid to the recipient spouse.
  343         11. The age, health, and physical and mental condition of
  344  the parties, including consideration of significant health care
  345  needs or uninsured or unreimbursed health care expenses.
  346         12. Significant economic or noneconomic contributions to
  347  the marriage or to the economic, educational, or occupational
  348  advancement of a party, including, but not limited to, services
  349  rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career
  350  building of the other party, payment by one spouse of the other
  351  spouse’s separate debts, or enhancement of the other spouse’s
  352  personal or real property.
  353         13. The tax consequence of the alimony award.
  354         14. Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice
  355  between the parties.
  356         (c) Deviation from guidelines.—The court may establish an
  357  award of alimony that is outside the presumptive alimony amount
  358  or alimony duration ranges only if the court considers all of
  359  the factors in paragraph (b) and makes specific written findings
  360  concerning the relevant factors justifying that the application
  361  of the presumptive alimony amount or alimony duration ranges, as
  362  applicable, is inappropriate or inequitable.
  363         (d) Order establishing alimony award.—After consideration
  364  of the presumptive alimony amount and duration ranges in
  365  accordance with paragraphs (3)(a) and (b) and the factors upon
  366  which evidence was presented in accordance with paragraph (b),
  367  the court may establish an alimony award. An order establishing
  368  an alimony award must clearly set forth both the amount and the
  369  duration of the award. The court shall also make a written
  370  finding that the payor has the financial ability to pay the
  371  award.
  372         (5) IMPUTATION OF INCOME.—If a party is voluntarily
  373  unemployed or underemployed, alimony shall be calculated based
  374  on a determination of potential income unless the court makes
  375  specific written findings regarding the circumstances that make
  376  it inequitable to impute income.
  377         (6) NOMINAL ALIMONY.—Notwithstanding subsections (1), (3),
  378  and (4), the court may make an award of nominal alimony in the
  379  amount of $1 per year if, at the time of trial, a party who has
  380  traditionally provided the primary source of financial support
  381  to the family temporarily lacks the ability to pay support but
  382  is reasonably anticipated to have the ability to pay support in
  383  the future. The court may also award nominal alimony for an
  384  alimony recipient who is presently able to work but for whom a
  385  medical condition with a reasonable degree of medical certainty
  386  may inhibit or prevent his or her ability to work during the
  387  duration of the alimony period. The duration of the nominal
  388  alimony shall be established within the presumptive durational
  389  range based upon the length of the marriage subject to the
  390  alimony factors in paragraph (4)(b). Before the expiration of
  391  the durational period, nominal alimony may be modified in
  392  accordance with s. 61.14 as to amount to a full alimony award
  393  using the alimony guidelines and factors in accordance with s.
  394  61.08.
  395         (7) TAXABILITY AND DEDUCTIBILITY OF ALIMONY.—
  396         (a) Unless otherwise stated in the judgment or order for
  397  alimony or in an agreement incorporated thereby, alimony shall
  398  be deductible from income by the payor under s. 215 of the
  399  Internal Revenue Code and includable in the income of the payee
  400  under s. 71 of the Internal Revenue Code.
  401         (b) When making a judgment or order for alimony, the court
  402  may, in its discretion after weighing the equities and tax
  403  efficiencies, order alimony be nondeductible from income by the
  404  payor and nonincludable in the income of the payee.
  405         (c) The parties may, in a marital settlement agreement,
  406  separation agreement, or related agreement, specifically agree
  407  in writing that alimony be nondeductible from income by the
  408  payor and nonincludable in the income of the payee.
  409         (8) MAXIMUM COMBINED AWARD.—In no event shall a combined
  410  award of alimony and child support constitute more than 55
  411  percent of the payor’s net income, calculated without any
  412  consideration of alimony or child support obligations.
  413         (9) SECURITY OF AWARD.—To the extent necessary to protect
  414  an award of alimony, the court may order any party who is
  415  ordered to pay alimony to purchase or maintain a decreasing term
  416  life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure such
  417  alimony award with any other assets that may be suitable for
  418  that purpose, in an amount adequate to secure the alimony award.
  419  Any such security may be awarded only upon a showing of special
  420  circumstances. If the court finds special circumstances and
  421  awards such security, the court must make specific evidentiary
  422  findings regarding the availability, cost, and financial impact
  423  on the obligated party. Any security may be modifiable in the
  424  event the underlying alimony award is modified and shall be
  425  reduced in an amount commensurate with any reduction in the
  426  alimony award.
  427         (10) TERMINATION OF AWARD.—An alimony award shall terminate
  428  upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the obligee.
  429         (11)MODIFICATION OF AWARD.—A court may subsequently modify
  430  or terminate the amount of an award of alimony initially
  431  established under this section in accordance with s. 61.14.
  432  However, a court may not modify the duration of an award of
  433  alimony initially established under this section.
  434         (12) PAYMENT OF AWARD.—
  435         (a) With respect to an order requiring the payment of
  436  alimony entered on or after January 1, 1985, unless paragraph
  437  (c) or paragraph (d) applies, the court shall direct in the
  438  order that the payments of alimony be made through the
  439  appropriate depository as provided in s. 61.181.
  440         (b) With respect to an order requiring the payment of
  441  alimony entered before January 1, 1985, upon the subsequent
  442  appearance, on or after that date, of one or both parties before
  443  the court having jurisdiction for the purpose of modifying or
  444  enforcing the order or in any other proceeding related to the
  445  order, or upon the application of either party, unless paragraph
  446  (c) or paragraph (d) applies, the court shall modify the terms
  447  of the order as necessary to direct that payments of alimony be
  448  made through the appropriate depository as provided in s.
  449  61.181.
  450         (c) If there is no minor child, alimony payments do not
  451  need to be directed through the depository.
  452         (d)1. If there is a minor child of the parties and both
  453  parties so request, the court may order that alimony payments do
  454  not need to be directed through the depository. In this case,
  455  the order of support shall provide, or be deemed to provide,
  456  that either party may subsequently apply to the depository to
  457  require that payments be made through the depository. The court
  458  shall provide a copy of the order to the depository.
  459         2. If subparagraph 1. applies, either party may
  460  subsequently file with the clerk of the court a verified motion
  461  alleging a default or arrearages in payment stating that the
  462  party wishes to initiate participation in the depository
  463  program. The moving party shall copy the other party with the
  464  motion. No later than 15 days after filing the motion, the court
  465  shall conduct an evidentiary hearing establishing the default
  466  and arrearages, if any, and issue an order directing the clerk
  467  of the circuit court to establish, or amend an existing, family
  468  law case history account, and further advising the parties that
  469  future payments must thereafter be directed through the
  470  depository.
  471         3. In IV-D cases, the Title IV-D agency shall have the same
  472  rights as the obligee in requesting that payments be made
  473  through the depository.
  474         Section 3. Paragraph (c) of subsection (2) and subsection
  475  (3) of section 61.13, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  476         61.13 Support of children; parenting and time-sharing;
  477  powers of court.—
  478         (2)
  479         (c) The court shall determine all matters relating to
  480  parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties in
  481  accordance with the best interests of the child and in
  482  accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
  483  Enforcement Act, except that modification of a parenting plan
  484  and time-sharing schedule requires a showing of a substantial,
  485  material, and unanticipated change of circumstances.
  486         1. In establishing a parenting plan and time-sharing
  487  schedule, the court shall begin with the premise that a minor
  488  child should spend approximately equal amounts of time with each
  489  parent. Using this premise as a starting point, the court shall
  490  formulate a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule taking into
  491  account the best interest of the child after considering all of
  492  the relevant factors in subsection (3). It is the public policy
  493  of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing
  494  contact with both parents after the parents separate or the
  495  marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to
  496  share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of
  497  childrearing. There is no presumption for or against the father
  498  or mother of the child or for or against any specific time
  499  sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan
  500  of the child.
  501         2. The court shall order that the parental responsibility
  502  for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court
  503  finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental
  504  to the child. Evidence that a parent has been convicted of a
  505  misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic
  506  violence, as defined in s. 741.28 and chapter 775, or meets the
  507  criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d), creates a rebuttable presumption of
  508  detriment to the child. If the presumption is not rebutted after
  509  the convicted parent is advised by the court that the
  510  presumption exists, shared parental responsibility, including
  511  time-sharing with the child, and decisions made regarding the
  512  child, may not be granted to the convicted parent. However, the
  513  convicted parent is not relieved of any obligation to provide
  514  financial support. If the court determines that shared parental
  515  responsibility would be detrimental to the child, it may order
  516  sole parental responsibility and make such arrangements for
  517  time-sharing as specified in the parenting plan as will best
  518  protect the child or abused spouse from further harm. Whether or
  519  not there is a conviction of any offense of domestic violence or
  520  child abuse or the existence of an injunction for protection
  521  against domestic violence, the court shall consider evidence of
  522  domestic violence or child abuse as evidence of detriment to the
  523  child.
  524         a. In ordering shared parental responsibility, the court
  525  may consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant
  526  to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects
  527  of the child’s welfare or may divide those responsibilities
  528  between the parties based on the best interests of the child.
  529  Areas of responsibility may include education, health care, and
  530  any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a
  531  particular family.
  532         b. The court shall order sole parental responsibility for a
  533  minor child to one parent, with or without time-sharing with the
  534  other parent if it is in the best interests of the minor child.
  535         3. Access to records and information pertaining to a minor
  536  child, including, but not limited to, medical, dental, and
  537  school records, may not be denied to either parent. Full rights
  538  under this subparagraph apply to either parent unless a court
  539  order specifically revokes these rights, including any
  540  restrictions on these rights as provided in a domestic violence
  541  injunction. A parent having rights under this subparagraph has
  542  the same rights upon request as to form, substance, and manner
  543  of access as are available to the other parent of a child,
  544  including, without limitation, the right to in-person
  545  communication with medical, dental, and education providers.
  546         (3) For purposes of establishing or modifying parental
  547  responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying
  548  a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which
  549  governs each parent’s relationship with his or her minor child
  550  and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or
  551  her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the
  552  primary consideration. A determination of parental
  553  responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may
  554  not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material,
  555  and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination
  556  that the modification is in the best interests of the child.
  557  Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made
  558  by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and
  559  interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of
  560  that family, including, but not limited to:
  561         (a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each
  562  parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing
  563  parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule,
  564  and to be reasonable when changes are required.
  565         (b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities
  566  after the litigation, including the extent to which parental
  567  responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
  568         (c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each
  569  parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the
  570  child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
  571         (d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable,
  572  satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining
  573  continuity.
  574         (e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with
  575  special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and
  576  the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the
  577  parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or
  578  against relocation of either parent with a child.
  579         (f) The moral fitness of the parents.
  580         (g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
  581         (h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
  582         (i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court
  583  deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding,
  584  and experience to express a preference.
  585         (j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, or and
  586  disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances
  587  of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s
  588  friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and
  589  favorite things.
  590         (k) The demonstrated capacity or and disposition of each
  591  parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as
  592  discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and
  593  bedtime.
  594         (l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate
  595  with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities
  596  regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to
  597  adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the
  598  child.
  599         (m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child
  600  abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of
  601  whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has
  602  been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending
  603  actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child
  604  abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must
  605  specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was
  606  considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
  607         (n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided
  608  false information to the court regarding any prior or pending
  609  action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child
  610  abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
  611         (o) The demonstrated capacity or disposition of each parent
  612  to perform or ensure the performance of particular parenting
  613  tasks customarily performed by the other each parent and the
  614  division of parental responsibilities before the institution of
  615  litigation and during the pending litigation, including the
  616  extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by
  617  third parties.
  618         (p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each
  619  parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and
  620  extracurricular activities.
  621         (q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each
  622  parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free
  623  from substance abuse.
  624         (r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect
  625  the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not
  626  discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents
  627  or electronic media related to the litigation with the child,
  628  and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent
  629  to the child.
  630         (s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the
  631  demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the
  632  child’s developmental needs.
  633         (t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination
  634  of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing
  635  schedule.
  636  
  637  The court shall make detailed written findings of fact which
  638  support and justify any parenting plan or time-sharing schedule
  639  that is not based on an agreement between the parents.
  640         Section 4. The amendments by this act to s. 61.13, Florida
  641  Statutes, apply only to proceedings in which the initial
  642  petition for dissolution of marriage or initial petition to
  643  establish a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule is filed on
  644  or after October 1, 2016.
  645         Section 5. Subsection (1) of section 61.14, Florida
  646  Statutes, is amended to read:
  647         61.14 Enforcement and modification of support, maintenance,
  648  or alimony agreements or orders.—
  649         (1)(a) When the parties enter into an agreement for
  650  payments for, or instead of, support, maintenance, or alimony,
  651  whether in connection with a proceeding for dissolution or
  652  separate maintenance or with any voluntary property settlement,
  653  or when a party is required by court order to make any payments,
  654  and the circumstances or the financial ability of either party
  655  changes or the child who is a beneficiary of an agreement or
  656  court order as described herein reaches majority after the
  657  execution of the agreement or the rendition of the order, either
  658  party may apply to the circuit court of the circuit in which the
  659  parties, or either of them, resided at the date of the execution
  660  of the agreement or reside at the date of the application, or in
  661  which the agreement was executed or in which the order was
  662  rendered, for an order decreasing or increasing the amount of
  663  support, maintenance, or alimony, and the court has jurisdiction
  664  to make orders as equity requires, with due regard to the
  665  changed circumstances or the financial ability of the parties or
  666  the child, decreasing, increasing, or confirming the amount of
  667  separate support, maintenance, or alimony provided for in the
  668  agreement or order. However, a court may not decrease or
  669  increase the duration of alimony provided for in the agreement
  670  or order. A party is entitled to pursue an immediate
  671  modification of alimony if the actual income earned by the other
  672  party exceeds by at least 10 percent the amount imputed to that
  673  party at the time the existing alimony award was determined and
  674  such circumstance shall constitute a substantial change in
  675  circumstances sufficient to support a modification of alimony.
  676  However, an increase in an alimony obligor’s income alone does
  677  not constitute a basis for a modification to increase alimony
  678  unless at the time the alimony award was established it was
  679  determined that the obligor was underemployed or unemployed and
  680  the court did not impute income to that party at his or her
  681  maximum potential income. If an alimony obligor becomes
  682  involuntarily underemployed or unemployed for a period of 6
  683  months following the entry of the last order requiring the
  684  payment of alimony, the obligor is entitled to pursue an
  685  immediate modification of his or her existing alimony
  686  obligations and such circumstance shall constitute a substantial
  687  change in circumstance sufficient to support a modification of
  688  alimony. A finding that medical insurance is reasonably
  689  available or the child support guidelines schedule in s. 61.30
  690  may constitute changed circumstances. Except as otherwise
  691  provided in s. 61.30(11)(c), the court may modify an order of
  692  support, maintenance, or alimony by increasing or decreasing the
  693  support, maintenance, or alimony retroactively to the date of
  694  the filing of the action or supplemental action for modification
  695  as equity requires, giving due regard to the changed
  696  circumstances or the financial ability of the parties or the
  697  child.
  698         (b)1. The court may reduce or terminate an award of alimony
  699  upon specific written findings by the court that since the
  700  granting of a divorce and the award of alimony a supportive
  701  relationship exists or has existed within the previous year
  702  before the date of the filing of the petition for modification
  703  or termination between the obligee and another a person with
  704  whom the obligee resides. On the issue of whether alimony should
  705  be reduced or terminated under this paragraph, the burden is on
  706  the obligor to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a
  707  supportive relationship exists.
  708         2. In determining whether an existing award of alimony
  709  should be reduced or terminated because of an alleged supportive
  710  relationship between an obligee and a person who is not related
  711  by consanguinity or affinity and with whom the obligee resides,
  712  the court shall elicit the nature and extent of the relationship
  713  in question. The court shall give consideration, without
  714  limitation, to circumstances, including, but not limited to, the
  715  following, in determining the relationship of an obligee to
  716  another person:
  717         a. The extent to which the obligee and the other person
  718  have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in
  719  conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing
  720  address, referring to each other in terms such as “my husband”
  721  or “my wife,” “my spouse” or otherwise conducting themselves in
  722  a manner that evidences a permanent supportive relationship.
  723         b. The period of time that the obligee has resided with the
  724  other person in a permanent place of abode.
  725         c. The extent to which the obligee and the other person
  726  have pooled their assets or income or otherwise exhibited
  727  financial interdependence.
  728         d. The extent to which the obligee or the other person has
  729  supported the other, in whole or in part.
  730         e. The extent to which the obligee or the other person has
  731  performed valuable services for the other.
  732         f. The extent to which the obligee or the other person has
  733  performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer.
  734         g. Whether the obligee and the other person have worked
  735  together to create or enhance anything of value.
  736         h. Whether the obligee and the other person have jointly
  737  contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property.
  738         i. Evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the
  739  other person have an express agreement regarding property
  740  sharing or support.
  741         j. Evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the
  742  other person have an implied agreement regarding property
  743  sharing or support.
  744         k. Whether the obligee and the other person have provided
  745  support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal
  746  duty to do so.
  747         l. Whether the obligor’s failure, in whole or in part, to
  748  comply with all court-ordered financial obligations to the
  749  obligee constituted a significant factor in the establishment of
  750  the supportive relationship.
  751         3. In any proceeding to modify an alimony award based upon
  752  a supportive relationship, the obligor has the burden of proof
  753  to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a
  754  supportive relationship exists or has existed within the
  755  previous year before the date of the filing of the petition for
  756  modification or termination. The obligor is not required to
  757  prove cohabitation of the obligee and the third party.
  758         4. Notwithstanding paragraph (f), if a reduction or
  759  termination is granted under this paragraph, the reduction or
  760  termination is retroactive to the date of filing of the petition
  761  for reduction or termination.
  762         5.3. This paragraph does not abrogate the requirement that
  763  every marriage in this state be solemnized under a license, does
  764  not recognize a common law marriage as valid, and does not
  765  recognize a de facto marriage. This paragraph recognizes only
  766  that relationships do exist that provide economic support
  767  equivalent to a marriage and that alimony terminable on
  768  remarriage may be reduced or terminated upon the establishment
  769  of equivalent equitable circumstances as described in this
  770  paragraph. The existence of a conjugal relationship, though it
  771  may be relevant to the nature and extent of the relationship, is
  772  not necessary for the application of the provisions of this
  773  paragraph.
  774         (c)1. For purposes of this section, the remarriage of an
  775  alimony obligor does not constitute a substantial change in
  776  circumstance or a basis for a modification of alimony.
  777         2. The financial information, including, but not limited
  778  to, information related to assets and income, of a subsequent
  779  spouse of a party paying or receiving alimony is inadmissible
  780  and may not be considered as a part of any modification action
  781  unless a party is claiming that his or her income has decreased
  782  since the marriage. If a party makes such a claim, the financial
  783  information of the subsequent spouse is discoverable and
  784  admissible only to the extent necessary to establish whether the
  785  party claiming that his or her income has decreased is diverting
  786  income or assets to the subsequent spouse that might otherwise
  787  be available for the payment of alimony. However, this
  788  subparagraph may not be used to prevent the discovery of or
  789  admissibility in evidence of the income or assets of a party
  790  when those assets are held jointly with a subsequent spouse.
  791  This subparagraph is not intended to prohibit the discovery or
  792  admissibility of a joint tax return filed by a party and his or
  793  her subsequent spouse in connection with a modification of
  794  alimony.
  795         (d)1. An obligor may file a petition for modification or
  796  termination of an alimony award based upon his or her actual
  797  retirement.
  798         a. A substantial change in circumstance is deemed to exist
  799  if:
  800         (I) The obligor has reached the age for eligibility to
  801  receive full retirement benefits under s. 216 of the Social
  802  Security Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 416, and has retired; or
  803         (II) The obligor has reached the customary retirement age
  804  for his or her occupation and has retired from that occupation.
  805  An obligor may file an action within 1 year of his or her
  806  anticipated retirement date and the court shall determine the
  807  customary retirement date for the obligor’s profession. However,
  808  a determination of the customary retirement age is not an
  809  adjudication of a petition for a modification of an alimony
  810  award.
  811         b. If an obligor voluntarily retires before reaching any of
  812  the ages described in sub-subparagraph a., the court shall
  813  determine whether the obligor’s retirement is reasonable upon
  814  consideration of the obligor’s age, health, and motivation for
  815  retirement and the financial impact on the obligee. A finding of
  816  reasonableness by the court shall constitute a substantial
  817  change in circumstance.
  818         2. Upon a finding of a substantial change in circumstance,
  819  there is a rebuttable presumption that an obligor’s existing
  820  alimony obligation shall be modified or terminated. The court
  821  shall modify or terminate the alimony obligation, or make a
  822  determination regarding whether the rebuttable presumption has
  823  been overcome, based upon the following factors applied to the
  824  current circumstances of the obligor and obligee:
  825         a. The age of the parties.
  826         b. The health of the parties.
  827         c. The assets and liabilities of the parties.
  828         d. The earned or imputed income of the parties as provided
  829  in s. 61.08(1)(a) and (5).
  830         e. The ability of the parties to maintain part-time or
  831  full-time employment.
  832         f. Any other factor deemed relevant by the court.
  833         3. The court may temporarily reduce or suspend the
  834  obligor’s payment of alimony while his or her petition for
  835  modification or termination under this paragraph is pending.
  836         (e) A party who unreasonably pursues or defends an action
  837  for modification of alimony shall be required to pay the
  838  reasonable attorney fees and costs of the prevailing party.
  839  Further, a party obligated to pay prevailing party attorney fees
  840  and costs in connection with unreasonably pursuing or defending
  841  an action for modification is not entitled to an award of
  842  attorney fees and costs in accordance with s. 61.16.
  843         (f) There is a rebuttable presumption that a modification
  844  or termination of an alimony award is retroactive to the date of
  845  the filing of the petition, unless the obligee demonstrates that
  846  the result is inequitable.
  847         (g)(c) For each support order reviewed by the department as
  848  required by s. 409.2564(11), if the amount of the child support
  849  award under the order differs by at least 10 percent but not
  850  less than $25 from the amount that would be awarded under s.
  851  61.30, the department shall seek to have the order modified and
  852  any modification shall be made without a requirement for proof
  853  or showing of a change in circumstances.
  854         (h)(d) The department may shall have authority to adopt
  855  rules to implement this section.
  856         Section 6. Paragraph (d) is added to subsection (11) of
  857  section 61.30, Florida Statutes, to read:
  858         61.30 Child support guidelines; retroactive child support.—
  859         (11)
  860         (d) Whenever a combined alimony and child support award
  861  constitutes more than 55 percent of the payor’s net income,
  862  calculated without any consideration of alimony or child support
  863  obligations, the court shall adjust the award of child support
  864  to ensure that the 55 percent cap is not exceeded.
  865         Section 7. Section 61.192, Florida Statutes, is created to
  866  read:
  867         61.192 Advancing trial.—In an action brought pursuant to
  868  this chapter, if more than 2 years have passed since the initial
  869  petition was served on the respondent, either party may move the
  870  court to advance the trial of their action on the docket. This
  871  motion may be made at any time after 2 years have passed since
  872  the petition was served, and once made the court must give the
  873  case priority on the court’s calendar.
  874         Section 8. Subsection (1) of section 61.1827, Florida
  875  Statutes, is amended to read:
  876         61.1827 Identifying information concerning applicants for
  877  and recipients of child support services.—
  878         (1) Any information that reveals the identity of applicants
  879  for or recipients of child support services, including the name,
  880  address, and telephone number of such persons, held by a non
  881  Title IV-D county child support enforcement agency is
  882  confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a) of Art. I
  883  of the State Constitution. The use or disclosure of such
  884  information by the non-Title IV-D county child support
  885  enforcement agency is limited to the purposes directly connected
  886  with:
  887         (a) Any investigation, prosecution, or criminal or civil
  888  proceeding connected with the administration of any non-Title
  889  IV-D county child support enforcement program;
  890         (b) Mandatory disclosure of identifying and location
  891  information as provided in s. 61.13(8) s. 61.13(7) by the non
  892  Title IV-D county child support enforcement agency when
  893  providing non-Title IV-D services;
  894         (c) Mandatory disclosure of information as required by ss.
  895  409.2577, 61.181, 61.1825, and 61.1826 and Title IV-D of the
  896  Social Security Act; or
  897         (d) Disclosure to an authorized person, as defined in 45
  898  C.F.R. s. 303.15, for purposes of enforcing any state or federal
  899  law with respect to the unlawful taking or restraint of a child
  900  or making or enforcing a parenting plan. As used in this
  901  paragraph, the term “authorized person” includes a parent with
  902  whom the child does not currently reside, unless a court has
  903  entered an order under s. 741.30, s. 741.31, or s. 784.046.
  904         Section 9. Subsection (1) of section 409.2579, Florida
  905  Statutes, is amended to read:
  906         409.2579 Safeguarding Title IV-D case file information.—
  907         (1) Information concerning applicants for or recipients of
  908  Title IV-D child support services is confidential and exempt
  909  from the provisions of s. 119.07(1). The use or disclosure of
  910  such information by the IV-D program is limited to purposes
  911  directly connected with:
  912         (a) The administration of the plan or program approved
  913  under part A, part B, part D, part E, or part F of Title IV;
  914  under Title II, Title X, Title XIV, Title XVI, Title XIX, or
  915  Title XX; or under the supplemental security income program
  916  established under Title XVI of the Social Security Act;
  917         (b) Any investigation, prosecution, or criminal or civil
  918  proceeding connected with the administration of any such plan or
  919  program;
  920         (c) The administration of any other federal or federally
  921  assisted program which provides service or assistance, in cash
  922  or in kind, directly to individuals on the basis of need;
  923         (d) Reporting to an appropriate agency or official,
  924  information on known or suspected instances of physical or
  925  mental injury, child abuse, sexual abuse or exploitation, or
  926  negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child who is the
  927  subject of a support enforcement activity under circumstances
  928  which indicate that the child’s health or welfare is threatened
  929  thereby; and
  930         (e) Mandatory disclosure of identifying and location
  931  information as provided in s. 61.13(8) s. 61.13(7) by the IV-D
  932  program when providing Title IV-D services.
  933         Section 10. The amendments made by this act to chapter 61,
  934  Florida Statutes, apply to all initial determinations of alimony
  935  and all alimony modification actions that are pending as of the
  936  effective date of this act, and to all initial determinations of
  937  alimony and all alimony modification actions brought on or after
  938  the effective date of this act. The enacting of this act may not
  939  serve as the sole basis for a party to seek a modification of an
  940  alimony award existing before the effective date of this act.
  941         Section 11. This act shall take effect October 1, 2016.

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Disclaimer: The Law Offices of Robert Hanreck, P.A. is based in Miami , Florida and serves clients throughout the State including Miami-Dade and Broward counties. We are licensed to practice law in the State of Florida. This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal advice, or solicit clients outside of the State of Florida.