Navigating the Legal Landscape: A Descriptive Exploration of Recent Changes to Florida Family Law

The revisions made to Florida family law have had a significant impact on various aspects of family dynamics and legal proceedings. These changes, which came into effect as of July 1, 2023, cover areas such as paternity laws, physical custody of a child, modification of parenting plans, and alimony. This post delves into each of these revisions, examining their implications and the rationale behind them.

One of the key revisions in Florida family law pertains to paternity laws [1]. These changes reflect a shift in societal attitudes and an increased recognition of the importance of paternal involvement in the lives of children. The new legislation, which is set to take effect in 2023, aims to provide greater clarity and consistency in determining paternity [1]. By doing so, it seeks to ensure that children have access to the emotional and financial support they need from their fathers. In recent years, there have been significant cultural and political changes in our understanding of fatherhood [2]. The implications of genetic testing have also played a role in shaping our definitions of paternity. The ability to link genes to identity, but not necessarily to parental status, has prompted a reevaluation of traditional notions of fatherhood [2]. These changes in societal attitudes towards paternity are reflected in the revised Florida family law.

The Mother remains the natural guardian (entitled to primary residence) of her child IF the father has not established paternity. A birth certificate does not necessarily qualify as an establishment of paternity but, the affidavit that one signs to get their name on the birth certificate does qualify. This means, if your name is on the birth certificate, a judge will likely assume the affidavit has been signed and paternity is established. In the past, child support would often determine paternity for child support purposes and the father would not gain any rights to timesharing with his child. Now, that establishment of paternity automatically establishes the Father has having equal rights over their child. This does not mean a time-sharing plan is automatically created, it simply means, the father is now also considered a natural guardian of the child.

Another significant revision to Florida family law pertains to the determination of physical custody of a child [4]. The previous guidelines for physical custody arrangements were deemed outdated, failing to account for the evolving dynamics of modern families. The revised legislation aims to address this issue and ensure that custody arrangements reflect the best interests of the child [3]. Changes in family life over the last several decades have influenced the way physical custody decisions are made [4]. Factors such as the increased participation of both parents in child-rearing, the rise of shared care parenting arrangements, and the recognition of the importance of a child’s relationship with both parents have all played a role in shaping these revisions [4]. The revised Florida family law seeks to strike a balance between the rights and responsibilities of both parents in shared custody arrangements. To better understand the implications of these changes, it is essential to consider the experiences of other jurisdictions that have revised their custody laws [5]. By examining the impact of changes in physical custody arrangements in other regions, we can gain valuable insights into the potential benefits and challenges that may arise in Florida.

The important change to point out here is the now rebuttable presumption that equal time-sharing is in the best interest of the child. In order to gain rights to more than 50/50 time sharing, the requesting party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that equal time-sharing is not in the best interest of the child.

modification to time sharing

The modification of parenting plans is another area of Florida family law that has undergone significant revisions [7]. Parenting plans are crucial in ensuring the well-being and stability of children whose parents are divorced or separated. The revised legislation aims to streamline the process of modifying parenting plans while prioritizing the best interests of the child [6].

One of important change is the elimination of the term “unanticipated” change. Now, you must only prove a substantial and material change of circumstances in order to prove the need for a modification. The substantial and material change no longer has to be unanticipated.

Another important change is that a parent, who lived far from their child, moving within 50 miles of the child, is now automatically considered a substantial and material change in circumstances in which time-sharing can be modified provided it is in the best interest of the child(ren).


Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a key area of family law that has undergone significant revisions in recent years. Florida’s new alimony regulations aim to provide more predictability and fairness in determining the amount and duration of alimony payments. One notable change is the introduction of specific guidelines for the calculation of alimony. These guidelines take into account factors such as the duration of the marriage, the income and earning capacities of both spouses, and the standard of living established during the marriage. By providing a clear framework for calculating alimony, these guidelines aim to reduce the potential for disputes and ensure consistency in the court’s decisions. Additionally, the new laws have introduced the concept of “durational alimony” as an alternative to permanent alimony. Durational alimony is awarded for a set period of time and is often granted in cases where the marriage was of shorter duration or when permanent alimony would not be appropriate. This change recognizes the evolving nature of relationships and seeks to provide a fair outcome that takes into account the specific circumstances of each case. These modifications to alimony regulations in Florida strive to create a more equitable and transparent system, where individuals can have a clearer understanding of their rights and obligations regarding spousal support.

  1. Dermott, E., Miller, T. More than the sum of its parts? Contemporary fatherhood policy, practice and discourse. (n.d.) Retrieved August 2, 2023, from
  2. Dowd, N. From Genes, Marriage and Money to Nurture: Redefining Fatherhood. (n.d.) Retrieved August 2, 2023, from
  3. Sodermans, A., Matthijs, K., Swicegood, G. Characteristics of joint physical custody families in Flanders. (n.d.) Retrieved August 2, 2023, from
  4. Artis, J. Judging the best interests of the child: Judges’ accounts of the tender years doctrine. (n.d.) Retrieved August 2, 2023, from
  5. Steinbach, A. Children’s and parents’ well‐being in joint physical custody: A literature review. (n.d.) Retrieved August 2, 2023, from
  6. Erickson, S. If They Can Do Parenting Plans, They Can Do Child Support Plans. (n.d.) Retrieved August 2, 2023, from

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