Throughout the country, child custody reform is taking effect in a myriad of ways. One of the most important aspects of child custody reform is focused on shared parenting plans. On one side of the debate are states like Missouri, who recently implemented a new law and policy recommendation that encourages parents to maximize the amount of time children have to spend with each parent. Proponents of shared parenting plans point to research highlighting that children desire open contact with both parents, and data also reveals that meaningful involvement with both parents produces the best outcome for children.
When shared parenting is framed in this way, it is perhaps unsurprising that shared parenting receives around 70% approval in polls. However, shared parenting is not the norm in most states. Florida is one such state that disagrees with the idea of shared parenting, joining forces with the vocal detractors who are against shared parenting.
Why Florida and Others Oppose Shared Parenting Plans
Florida recently proposed a new law that would enact shared parenting time, but the plan was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. He vetoed the bill on the grounds that the bill had the potential to upend the policy of putting a child’s best interests before the wants of a parent.
The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar lobbied for a veto of this bill, so it is unsurprising that they agreed with Governor Scott’s decision. John Giotis, chairman of the Florida Council for Safe Communities, stated that Governor Scott did the right thing by “putting Florida’s children first.”
The general reasoning of why Governor Scott and similar detractors oppose the plan is that judges already have the discretion to issue an equitable custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. If a shared plan is truly in the child’s best interests, Governor Scott and others would argue that the judge is likely going to make such a determination based on existing law. And, most importantly, current law begins a custody determination by focusing on the child’s interests first, not the needs of the parent.
Advocates of shared parenting, however, would point critics back to the data indicating that children prefer to spend time with both parents and are better off when they are able to fulfill that desire.
No matter which side is right, Florida has rejected shared parenting plans for the time being. But, since the bill was passed before Governor Scott vetoed it, the debate may not be over.
While these issues center around going to court to determine custody, it is always best to make these decisions with your ex-spouse if possible. John F. Greene is a Destin divorce lawyer who helps families work together to find amicable solutions to the hard issues in divorce. When an amicable agreement is unreachable, John zealously represents the interests of his client to ensure their interests and the wellbeing of the family is safeguarded.
John represents divorce clients in Destin as well as individuals in need of divorce in Northwest Florida and the Emerald Coast, including Walton, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Bay Counties. From his office in Destin, John provides family law counsel for individuals in the Destin, Niceville, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City communities.
Contact John F. Greene or call 850-424-6833 for a legal consultation to discuss your Florida divorce.