Important Updates to Florida’s Alimony/Child Custody Legislation

This blog has previously discussed changes to Florida’s alimony laws (Senate Bill 718). Governor Scott vetoed this bill which included, as well, updates to Florida’s child custody laws.Specifically, child custody schedules were updated. Previously, there was never a codified mandate or guide that the custody break-down be 50/50 with both parents; rather judges just deemed what is right by a scattered amount of standards. Senate Bill 718 codifies a presumption that there be a 50/50 time sharing agreement between parents as, according to the legislature, it “is in the best interest of the child”. The bill does provide for basic and necessary exceptions or considerations to this presumption however.

Some of these considerations include: physical, mental and emotional safety of the child; distance makes the sharing too burdensome; a court order has prevented contact with one parent; a parent is incarcerated; domestic violence has occurred; clear evidence that extenuating circumstances require a modification of the schedule; or a parent does not wish to retain his/her level of custody.

Govenor Scott has admitted he does approve of “several forward looking elements of this bill” but he recognizes the importance alimony plays to many households. Currently, only four states have ended permanent alimony. Gov. Scott further criticized the Florida bill for its retroactive application which damaged ideas of fairness and “could result in unfair, unanticipated results.”

No Custody for Rapists

This April, the Florida legislature approved another more specific child custody bill which has been long overdue. The bill, SB 964, would prohibit a convicted rapist from acquiring child custody rights over the child conceived from the attack. The Florida House unanimously passed SB 964 with a vote of 115-0. The bill will be going to Governor Rick Scott and will take effect upon his expected signature.

A staff report in support of the bill reported that only 19 states terminate parental rights of convicted rapist for any child conceived through their crime. Now, with Florida having passed the bill, a startling 30 states (as well as the District of Columbia) remain which have no law on the books that bars a rapist from seeking visitation or custody rights. These states are as follows: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Previously, rapists could seek custody of the child born from their attack. In some cases, this can even be used as a backdoor bargaining chip to discourage the victim from reporting the incident, testifying, or participating in sentencing hearings.

The Law Office of Sandy T. Fox is experienced at providing dedicated, compassionate and zealous advocacy for those in the Fort Lauderdale area to solve their family law issues. The practice of Sandy T. Fox can assist you during all stages of your domestic relation case, including: child visitation rights, custody, child support orders and modification, custody modifications, spousal support, divorce, and more. Those in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area needing an experienced family law attorney can contact the Law Office of Sandy T. Fox by calling us toll free at (800) 596-0579 or contacting us through our website to schedule their confidential consultation.

Related Posts:

Florida Legislators Propose a Required Reading Guidebook to Marriage Fort Lauderdale Family Law Attorney March 5, 2013
The Uncertain Future of Florida Alimony Fort Lauderdale Family Law Attorney February 26, 2013
Group Seeks to Reform Permanent Alimony Laws in the State of Florida Fort Lauderdale Family Law Attorney November 12, 2012