New laws expanding protection for children at risk of being abducted by a parent and recalculating how alimony is paid go into effect Jan. 1.
The first bill (HB 787), sponsored by Rep. Daryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, adds new protective measures to those a judge can use to prevent feuding parents from taking children out of state or out of the country if there is reason to believe they won’t bring them back. Included in the new tools would be the ability to pull a child’s passport, require a bond when traveling, or prevent the parent from taking the child to countries where extradition would be difficult or impossible. The other measure (HB 907) that goes into effect Saturday recalculates how alimony and support payments are made by changing the formulas used to determine custody, percentage of care and other factors that make up the amount owed by a non-custodial parent. The law, sponsored by Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, also bolsters penalties for non-custodial parents who don’t cooperate. Among enhanced sanctions, the law raises the minimum amount owed if the parent is non-responsive. The bill specifically defines different types of support payments and when they should be applied. The law also adds statutory definitions dealing with the duration of a marriage, with certain types of alimony available only to ex-spouses of long-term relationships. Under the new law, which affects cases pending after July 1, 2010, the judge’s first decision is whether one party actually needs alimony and if the other party has ability to pay. Once that’s settled, the judge then determines how long the marriage lasted and what type of alimony is appropriate.