Florida Bill Addresses Equal Parenting Time When Parents Separate
Children of divorced parents are better adjusted when mom and dad get equal time with their kids. That is the conclusion and basis of a bill working its way through the Florida Legislature" Florida Legislature that would change the way courts calculate time-sharing when couples call it quits.
"I didn't like it. I didn't think it was right. I didn't think it was fair," said Terrence Bostic. It's the way he felt 28 years ago when the court made, what Bostic felt, was an unfair assumption that his now ex-wife should be awarded primary custody of their daughter.
"Because I thought, 'I was just as good a parent as she was, if not better.'" Three years later, Bostic's ex-wife moved away with their daughter. Three years after that, he went back to court to regain custody.
"That it is better for the children to have both parents equally involved in their lives," said Family Law Attorney Peter Farren with the Valrico law firm, Gallo Farren.
Farren posted the proposed change on his Facebook page Wednesday, and spoke with us about the pros and cons such a law could present.
On one hand, he says, it would give parents – often the father – a presumption of a right to equal time with their kids.
"We're definitely in different times now," said Farren, "And these generations of fathers are just as involved, in many cases, with their children."
But critics say in some cases the law will force couples back to court, asking a judge to amend their equal-parenting plan for several possible reasons.
Work schedules. Challenges getting the kids to school.
There are also more serious factors to consider, said Farren. "If there's a psychological issue, or a drug issue, or if one parent is just refusing to cooperate and communicate with the other parent."
The Senate bill’s sponsor provides that judges weighing time share would still be able to use the same 20 criteria they currently have at their disposal to decide what's in the children's interest.
The change, they say, would start with the presumption that an equal 50-50 split is what's best.
"I think you can't get any fairer than that," said Bostic, it would've been a lot easier on me."
The law would apply equally in cases where the parents are not married.
So far, the bill has moved its way through the State Senate, not get making its way to the House.
To see the full text of the proposed law, click here.
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