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Florida is unlikely to pass shared custody law

Many child psychologists and about 70 percent of the public are in favor of shared custody arrangements for the children of divorcing couples, and 20 states have introduced reforms to their custody laws that reflect these sentiments. However, most experts feel that a shared custody law is unlikely to be adopted in Florida.

A bill that would have made shared custody the standard in the state was passed by the Florida Legislature on March 8, but Gov. Rick Scott subsequently vetoed the proposal because he felt that it contradicted the best interest of the child doctrine that forms the basis of Florida's custody laws. Child custody reform or shared parenting bills have already been signed into law in Missouri, Utah, South Dakota and Minnesota.

These laws have sometimes been opposed by women's rights groups and bar associations, but their objections were largely stifled by overwhelming scientific research indicating that the children of divorced couples fare much better when they are able to spend significant time with both of their parents. These findings have prompted legislators across the country to reconsider the way that child custody decisions are made and encourage family law judges to view shared parenting arrangements as the default solution.

Child custody disputes often become highly contentious, and parents sometimes become so entrenched in their positions that finding an acceptable compromise becomes extremely difficult. Experienced family law attorneys may remind their clients that the outcomes of expensive and time-consuming custody battles cannot be guaranteed, and they may suggest alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. Even the most embattled of divorcing parents generally want what is best for their children, and this small area of common ground may provide mediators with the consensus they need to get child custody and visitation negotiations moving again.

Source: WUFT, Florida Legislature Passes Bill on Shared Parenting, Alexandra Fernandez, March 16, 2016

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