Will This Affect My Parenting Plan?
If you live in Florida, you have probably been exposed to what some have coined as mass hysteria in response to SB 718. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Florida is leading the nation in what could be a sweeping movement towards alimony reform. No, this isn’t a late April Fools joke, Florida really is being categorized as a progressive state in this realm! And, although several statutes are subject to change, including in the areas of parenting and equitable distribution; the majority of people’s attention has focused on the issue of alimony.
Whichever side of the coin you may find yourself on, this issue is being fiercely debated and rightfully so. If you haven’t read the bill, I encourage you to do so. After all, as FDR once quipped, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” If you do take the time to peruse SB 718, you will see that alimony is just one of the many Florida statutes that will be altered if this bill is signed into law. As previously stated, another issue greatly affected by this is parenting.
Parenting Plan Under Florida Statute
Currently, under Florida Statute 61.13, there is no presumption for or against any specific time sharing schedule when formulating a parenting plan. This allows the court the discretion to look at the individual circumstances surrounding a particular case and facilitates a judge’s ability to tailor a schedule to best meet a child’s needs. Assuming SB 718 gets Ricky’s seal of approval, there will now be a presumption that an equal timesharing schedule is in the best interests of a minor child absent certain findings. These findings include abuse/endangerment and impracticality due to a parent’s incarceration or geographical location.
It is important to note that the changes to parenting under SB 718 only apply prospectively to orders, including those with a parenting plan, entered on or after July 1, 2013 and the equal time sharing presumption does not serve as a basis for modification. However, the changes to alimony will have a retroactive application and could serve as a basis for modification of your alimony award.