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Alimony legislation dead for 2017, sponsor says

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Good news for opponents of this year’s alimony overhaul, and bad news for its supporters: The bills are dead for the year. Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, the Naples Republican who’s carrying the Senate version (SB 412), on Wednesday said the chair of its first committee of reference has refused to hear the bill. Rene Garcia chairs the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs. “Chairman Garcia determined that he was not interested in hearing it and I respect that decision,”  Passidomo said. “I don’t think leadership…

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2017 Legislative Session preview: Alimony rears its head

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Get ready for a rumble: Lawmakers will again tackle the sticky issue of alimony in the 2017 Legislative Session. Companion bills filed in the House and Senate aim to overhaul state alimony law to toughen the standards by which alimony is granted and changed. That’s despite unsuccessful tries in the last few years. Neither bill had a hearing in the committee weeks leading up to this year’s session, which begins Tuesday. Given its history, the effort promises to be one…

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Jeff Brandes files bill to standardize visitation plans

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Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed a bill aimed at providing standardized visitation plans for unmarried parents. The St. Petersburg Republican filed legislation (SB 590) Monday, which would create a standard visitation schedule for unmarried parents. If adopted, the proposal would encourage contact between non-custodial parents and their children. “Spending time with our children is the most valuable gift parents can give,” he said in a statement. “The state currently requires child support be paid but is silent on time. This…

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Alimony reform bill filed for 2017

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divorce alimony

State Rep. Colleen Burton will try again to overhaul the state’s alimony law, filing a bill on Wednesday. The Lakeland Republican still aims to toughen the standards by which alimony is granted and changed, after last year’s measure was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. “I believe it is the right thing to do,” Burton said in a phone interview. “It costs families a lot of money to go through a process that has no starting point. This gives judges a starting point, the…

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Tampa divorce case turns ugly after husband accuses wife of illegally accessing medical records

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A Tampa General nurse is being accused of illegally disclosing patient records to gain an advantage in her contentious divorce settlement. Angela Marie Downing, 38, formerly known as Angela Hassey, is being sued by her ex-husband, Michael Todd “Mike” Hassey, a 42-year-old Apollo Beach resident who claims Angela accessed his medical records. The records were allegedly used maliciously to portray Hassey in a negative light during their negotiations. In October 2012, the couple filed for divorce. A final judgment was…

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Lawmakers consider controversial alimony, custody changes

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Big changes could be in store for couples who divorce under legislation now being considered by Florida lawmakers. Measures to end permanent alimony and to push judges toward granting 50-50 time-sharing custody between parents are generating emotional arguments in legislative committee hearings. An alimony reform bill passed its second committee in the House last week, and is ready for a vote on the House floor. A child custody bill has passed one committee in the Senate. Backers say alimony reform…

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Child-support activist ejected from Senate panel vows to return

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The woman who was thrown out of a Senate committee meeting Thursday was unapologetic about her outburst, saying lawmakers deserved it. Cynthia Wheeler, a nurse and child-support activist from Palm Beach County, has come to Tallahassee before to speak on family-law related bills. She was in the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday for a bill (SB 250), sponsored by Brandon Republican Tom Lee, that would change state law on child-sharing. The panel ran late, though, and Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla,…

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