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Child Custody Laws Questioned in Advocacy Group’s Report Card

Are the Florida statutes friendly to parents who want to have equal time with their children after a divorce? A recent “report card,” created by the National Parents Organization, said that Florida can do better in its child custody laws. The advocacy group that drafted the report card aims to preserve bond between parents and children after divorce. As such, it performed a state-by-state ranking in which Florida only scored about average.

Do you have questions about Florida time sharing and the child custody laws that the court will use during your divorce proceeding? You should contact an experienced Florida divorce attorney to learn more about how we can advocate for you every step of the way.

Florida Could Do Better at Shared Parenting

The research involved in the National Parents Organization report card was driven by “the tremendous impact our nation’s family courts have on children whose parents are divorced or separated.” Specifically, the organization has amassed information from psychological studies across the country that emphasize how “children thrive with shared parenting following separation or divorce.”

The study involved all fifty U.S. states, yet none of them earned an “A” grade. Of the states, only 8 received a grade of “B,” and those states included Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Washington, D.C. The report card showed some wiggle room, as states could receive a “plus” or a “minus” on their grade, just like in school. Among the states that received an average grade, Florida received a solid “C.” Eighteen of the states studied received a “C” grade. The majority of the states earned only a “D,” while two states—New York and Rhode Island—received an “F.”

Important Factors in Florida’s “C” Grade

To determine each state’s shared custody grade, the group looked at the four following factors:

·     Whether the statute permits shared parenting;

·     Whether the statute encourages shared parenting;

·     Whether the statute expresses a preference for shared parenting; and

·     Whether the statute establishes a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting.

What’s good about Florida’s child custody statute? According to the National Parents Organization, it “has a strong statutory presumption of shared parental responsibility.” Specifically, Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes specifies that “the court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.”

What’s not so good about Florida’s child custody laws? The report card emphasizes that two primary issues could be improved:

·     While Florida law does have a presumption of shared parental responsibility, there’s no explicit presumption concerning shared physical custody. In other words, Florida presumes that both parents should make important decisions for their kids, but the statute doesn’t presume that they should have a 50/50 time-sharing agreement.

·     Florida law doesn’t explicitly provide for shared parenting when there’s a temporary custody order in place.

Remember, Florida law doesn’t use the terms “child custody” in the same way that many other states do. Rather, under Chapter 61.13 of the Florida statutes, courts order “time-sharing” schedules for divorcing parents. If you have questions about child custody, it’s important to speak with a Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.

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