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Senate panel OK’s alimony overhaul bill

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The Senate Appropriations Committee OK’d its alimony overhaul bill, paving the way for a vote in the full Senate in the coming days. Among other things, the bill changes the way Florida judges can award alimony. The proposal (SB 668) allows the courts to modify alimony payments if there is a substantial change in circumstances. The changes can occur for several reasons, including the person paying become unemployed or has reached the age to receive full benefits from the Social…

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Child time-sharing bill clears the full Senate

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The Florida Senate OK’d a proposal that creates the legal presumption that parents should get equal time with their children after a divorce. Senators voted 23-15 to approve legislation (SB 250) sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican. The vote came about an hour after the Senate briefly temporarily postponed a vote on the proposal. “I made a promise to a couple of people that are very very close to me that if I ever had a chance to…

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Bill on equal time in child custody heads to full Senate

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Equal time for both parents after a divorce would the starting line in child custody cases under a bill heading to the Senate floor. The Rules Committee cleared the measure (SB 250) on a 7-4 party-line vote on Wednesday. The legislation, sponsored by Brandon Republican Tom Lee, creates a legal assumption that 50-50 time-sharing is in the best interest of a child. But, as Lee pointed out, it includes a list of 22 factors that judges can consider to tip the scales, so to speak, including…

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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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Alimony overhaul bill clears first House panel

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A House bill aimed at overhauling and streamlining the state’s alimony rules cleared its first panel Wednesday, despite a retired judge telling lawmakers “bad things are going to happen to nice people” if the measure becomes law. The Civil Justice Subcommittee OK’d the bill (HB 455), sponsored by Republican state Rep. Colleen Burton of Lakeland, along party lines. It’s the third time in recent years the Legislature has attempted to change Florida’s alimony law. Pitted once more against each other are…

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