Lawmakers Introduce New Child Custody Bills
Last month, two bills were introduced by Florida lawmakers that, if passed, would require judges to presume that a 50/50 split between two divorced or separated parents is in the best interests of their children. This change could have a significant impact on custody arrangements in the future, so if you and a former partner cannot reach an agreement on how parenting time of your child will be shared or have another custody-related question, you should contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale child visitation and time-sharing attorney who can help you protect your child’s best interests.
Current Parenting Time Law in Florida
Under current law, Florida judges presume that it is in a child’s best interests to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents in the event that the parties separate or their marriage is dissolved. According to lawmakers, this arrangement provides the best way for parents to share the rights and responsibilities, as well as the joys, of childrearing. There is, however, no explanation of what constitutes frequent and continuing contact in the eyes of the court. In fact, there is no presumption at all regarding how parenting time should be split. Courts do, however, have orders when it comes to awarding parental responsibility, or responsibility for decision making. When making these determinations, courts are required to order shared parental responsibility unless they find that such an arrangement would be detrimental to the child. There are also a few specific examples of when this type of arrangement wouldn’t be in a child’s best interests, including when a parent has been convicted of domestic violence.
Proposed Changes to Family Law
If passed, the recently proposed bills would make a 50/50 split between two parents a rebuttable presumption in the state. This means that courts would be directed to automatically presume that an equal time sharing arrangement would be in a child’s best interests, although it would still be possible for one of the parties to challenge the presumption, especially if there are allegations of substance abuse, physical abuse, or another detriment to the child.
This is not the first time that lawmakers have attempted to create a presumption of equal time sharing in Florida. In fact, two previous versions of this bill passed the Legislature in 2013 and 2016, but both were voted by the governor. The success of this version of the bill still remains to be seen.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Legal Team for Support
Whether the proposed bills are enacted by Florida legislators could have a significant impact on couples who share children, making it especially important for those with questions about this issue, to speak with an attorney about their concerns. For help with your own parenting time-related issues, please call experienced parenting time lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. You can reach a member of our legal team by calling our office at 954-945-7591 or by sending us an online message. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to contact us today.