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Efforts to reform Florida’s child support laws are advancing rapidly in the state capitol. The legislation abolishes permanent child support and establishes a formula based on length of marriage, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the legislation contains a clause that has frustrated reform efforts in the past.

Permanent child support would end under the legislation. It would be replaced by a formula based on the duration of the marriage.

And for the first time, the change is supported by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar.

Philip Wartenberg is the chair-elect of family law and told the committee: ‘This is something the section has historically opposed, but we believe the time has come to move away from this concept of alimony permed.”

The most controversial provision states that child custody matters begin with the presumption that parents will split the time equally.

“What would happen is you would have a huge hurdle, this presumption, before you even hit 20 factors,” Wartenberg says.

Before the bill was approved by the sponsor of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, Jenna Persons-Mulicka (R-Ft. Myers) said there was a goal.

“To make sure it leads to a better system that provides predictability. This brings certainty and fairness.

Anna Eskamani voted no.

“When you have a fifty-fifty guess, it can tie a judge’s hands.”

The sponsor twice refused to tell us about the bill.

What we would have asked is why the sponsor included the presumption that the parents would share the children equally. It has killed the bill in the past.

And Florida NOW’s Barbara Devane told us that the threat of child sharing is often used as leverage.

“To get them to agree to something that is not in their financial economic interest, or that of the child,” says Devane.

The legislation also creates an option for the child support payer to seek to reduce the amount or end it altogether when someone reaches retirement age.

Under current Florida law, a judge weighs 17 to 20 factors to decide child custody. It would remain, but the fear is that it will be replaced by the 50/50 split provision.