Some Say Florida’s Child Custody Bill Is Bad for Children
Another piece of legislation up for a vote this session calls for mandatory 50-50 child custody splits, requiring children to spend equal time with both parents. However, many say this could place both mothers and children at risk, and the critics include judges, who echo concerns that custody decisions are currently made based on what is in the best interests of the children, not the parents, and this discretion is very necessary for the child’s interests.
What Does The Bill Specifically Say?
CS/SB 250 would specifically create the presumption that equal time-sharing by both parents is in the best interest of the child, and would become effective in October 2016. It would also revise the list of factors that a court must evaluate when determining whether to reject equal time-sharing. In determining whether to overcome the 50-50 time-share presumption, the court would be required to evaluate:
- The capacity or disposition of each parent to facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities (including to third parties);
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to determine and act on the needs of the child;
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment and any desire to maintain that continuity;
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan;
- The moral fitness of the parents;
- The mental and physical health of the parents;
- The home, school, and community record of the child;
- The reasonable preference of the child;
- The capacity of each parent to stay informed of the child’s circumstances, including their friends, teachers, extracurricular activities, etc.;
- The ability of each parent to provide the child with a consistent routine;
- The capacity of each parent to keep the other parent informed;
- Any evidence of domestic violence or abuse;
- Any evidence of providing false information to the court;
- Capacity of each parent to ensure the performance of certain parenting tasks;
- The ability of each parent to maintain a substance-free environment for the child;
- The ability to protect the child from ongoing litigation;
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the parents’ abilities to meet those needs;
- The amount of time-sharing requested by each parent;
- The frequency that a parent would leave the child in the care of others; and
- Any other factor relevant to time-sharing.
The legislation specifically shifts the burden of the proof, requiring that there be evidence that a 50-50 split be demonstrably detrimental to the children in order to deviate from it. But what this could translate to is paying for more expenses—including court time—for the parent with less income. Some believe it could even end up tipping the child custody scales in favor of “abusers,” as evidence of abuse can often be difficult to come by. In the end, this could come back to directly affecting a child’s best interests, as the parent who is able to pay may obtain more child custody.
In fact, many experts indicate that while a 50-50 split can make sense in circumstances where there is no abuse or conflict, the issues with joint custody typically outweigh the benefits. Specifically, children can sometimes feel like “traveling salesmen,” in that they don’t have one home to come home to, or one set of rules to abide by; if one parent provides drastically different schoolwork support, for example, this can have dire consequences. Children have reported feeling torn between both sets of parents and two drastically different lives.
Contact Us for Assistance with Custody Issues
Whether you are a father or a mother seeking to ensure that your child’s best interests are represented, we can help you. Contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to schedule a consultation if you live in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, or Broward County.