Florida Legislature Sends Bill Changing Child Custody Laws to Governor’s Desk
Zephyrhills, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 23, 2013 - A bill awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature would create a presumption in favor of equal time-sharing in child custody cases.
Senate Bill 718 is most widely known and debated for the fact that it would do away with permanent alimony in Florida. But another important aspect of the legislation is also attracting its share of supporters and detractors. The bill would create a presumption for equal time-sharing by declaring it to be, with limited exceptions, in the best interest of the child.
“Equal time-sharing is often of significant benefit to children of divorce,” commented Zephyrhills divorce attorney Marcie Baker. “However, judges need to consider each case carefully on its own merits.”
Current law specifically states a lack of presumption for or against any child custody schedule. It simply instructs courts to determine all child custody matters with regard to the best interests of the child.
SB 718 would amend section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes to say that equal time-sharing is “in the best interest of the child” unless the court finds any of seven listed exceptions. The exceptions include a parent not requesting at least 50 percent custody, the occurrence of domestic violence, and impracticality of equal custody due to distance between residences.
Notably, SB 718 does not eliminate the language currently in section 61.13 that establishes the absence of presumption for or against any specific custody schedule. Nevertheless, in the context of the section's provision requiring all custody matters to be decided in the child's best interest, SB 718 would appear to create a strong presumption in favor of equal custody.
Opponents of the bill frame its child custody provisions and permanent alimony elimination as similarly “anti-woman.” They see them as two sides of a coin designed to limit payments divorced men must make. Proponents say that it modernizes divorce in Florida and that science is on the side of equal child custody.
Gov. Scott may sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to pass into law without his signature. If the law passes, its provisions will go into effect July 1, 2013.
Marcie Baker is a partner in the firm of Alston & Baker, P. A. To contact a Zephyrhills Social Security lawyer, Zephyrhills accident attorney, or Zephyrhills divorce lawyer, visit http://www.alstonbakerlaw.com.
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