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Splitting? Major Changes Proposed For Child Custody, Alimony Laws in Florida

State lawmakers in Tallahassee are fast-tracking through the Legislature a proposal that would essentially eliminate permanent alimony in Florida, and also, presume most child custody arrangements begin with a 50-50 timesharing arrangement.

Senate Bill 718 does set guidelines for alimony based on the length of marriages. But permanent alimony would be virtually done away with, and instead would only last for a certain period of time, which would vary based on the circumstances of the divorce.

More controversially for some family law attorneys, the bill also would make law a presumption that equal time sharing- or 50/50 custody- is in the best interest of the child, unless a parent is declared to be unfit.

Supporters of this piece of the legislation say it's a way to even the playing field for fathers (and sometimes mothers) when it comes to alimony and child custody.  Critics of the legislation, including the Family Law section of the Florida Bar, are expressing concern however, saying it's not wise to make blanket assumptions about can be very complex and individualized family matters.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.