Update: On April 15 Governor Rick Scott vetoed the senate bill to change Florida's child-sharing and alimony laws.
Parenting time for parents who divorce is set to change in Florida. The new law will include a presumption of equal time-sharing for parents with minor children. The change will be good news for Florida fathers who felt they were at a disadvantage when it came to spending time with their children.
The law was presented to Florida Governor Rick Scott by the Florida senate in early April. If signed, it will take effect October 1. The new law, Senate Bill 668, will have a sweeping effect not only on child custody and visitation (known as parental responsibility in Florida), but also on child support.
Florida places a greater financial burden on the parent who has fewer overnights with the child. If both parents have equal overnights with children, earn the same amount, and contribute equally to expenses such as day care and health insurance, neither parent may have to pay child support.
The bill was not without opponents. Senate Bill 668 was opposed by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. The new law could result in more litigation rather than less if moms seek a greater share of parenting time and the father does not agree.
In the past, fathers were often in the position of having to show the court why they should have equal parenting time with mothers. Now they may be in the position of having to defend their rights as a parent.
The new presumption toward equal time-sharing will not affect existing parenting time orders. However, the new revised the list of factors a court must evaluate when modifying parental responsibility or a parenting plan.
To protect your rights as a father, it's important to seek prompt legal advice if a divorce is in your future. Nix Law, P.A. in Orlando is represents men in child custody and modification cases.