The Florida Legislature has been busy in this last legislative session (2023). There were a number of bills filed that eventually passed both chambers and were presented to the governor for his signature. All of the statutory changes took effect on July 1, 2023.
Among them was SB 1146, which amended Chapter 742, Florida’s Paternity statute. The biggest change with this bill is that once a putative father’s paternity has been established -either through a petition to establish paternity or via administrative child support proceedings- the determination of parental responsibility, child support, and the creation of a parenting plan and timesharing schedule must be established. Basically, it provides unwed fathers with rights to parental responsibility and allows them to seek a timesharing schedule. It further protects their rights as a “natural guardian” of the child. Prior to this change, only the unwed mothers were considered the natural guardians of the child and prevented many putative fathers from establishing their rights.
Also passed this year was SB 1292, which changed the parental responsibility portion of Florida Statute 61.13. It amended F.S. 61.13(2)(c)1 to create a rebuttable presumption that equal timesharing of a minor child is in the best interests of that child. Parties are able to waive that presumption and agree on a different timesharing arrangement.
Senate Bill 226 codifies child support for “dependent adult children”. While F.S. 743.07 provided for “support for a dependent person beyond the age of 18” due to mental or physical incapacity, the newly created 61.1255 goes further to establish what a “dependent adult child” is and what the legal financial responsibilities the parents of such a child have.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, SB 1416 has changed the alimony statute. Gone are the days of permanent periodic alimony in Florida. This change in F.S. 61.08 is for cases going forward. There is no retroactivity applicable to this change. One of the highlights is that it puts the onus on the Court to make written findings when awarding alimony and delineates what factors the Court must consider. This bill also changed what defines a short-term marriage (less than 10 years); moderate-term marriage (between 10 and 20 years); and a long-term marriage (20 years or longer). It established that rehabilitative alimony may not exceed 5 years, and that for durational alimony, it may not be awarded for a marriage lasting less than 3 years, and it cannot exceed 50% of the length of a short-term marriage; 60% of the length of a moderate-term marriage; and 75% of the length of a long-term marriage. There were also changes to how alimony can be modified and/or terminated, essentially codifying long-standing case law in the State of Florida.