Changes To Florida Child Custody and Time-sharing Laws

Florida is undergoing unprecedented changes to its laws regarding divorces and child custody, with another batch of bills recently signed into law by Governor DeSantis that help fathers in ways never before tried in this state. Fathers wanting to take an active role in their child’s life will likely have an easier time under these new laws.

If you are a St. Petersburg or Tampa resident undergoing a divorce involving children, this changing landscape makes having legal representation even more critical than it was just weeks ago.

At The Bardine Law Firm, our attorneys work tirelessly on the front lines of family court to help our clients leave marriages on the best possible footing. Johnny Bardine prides himself on his ability to vigorously promote the interests of his clients as they go through the toughest time in their life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how our firm can help you take advantage of these new laws during your separation. Reach out through our website or by phone at (727) 605-7078.

So, what specifically changed?

The governor recently signed two bills into law:

HB 1301 – Parenting and Time-sharing of Minor Children
HB 775 – Shared Parental Responsibility after Establishment of Paternity

These bills are multifaceted, and the minor changes they made to other areas of existing law will still impact cases in the future. However, most of the focus of these new bills has been on the changing way that Florida courts will look at fathers and their presumptive rights regarding their children, no matter the circumstances.

Let’s start with HB 1301.
Most importantly, this law creates a rebuttable presumption that equal time-sharing between father and mother is in the child’s best interests. In simple terms, 50/50 time-sharing is now the norm, although one side can lobby the court to change this time-sharing agreement based on a newly created standard of evidence.

As it stands, Florida does not currently have any statutes that favor the mother over the father concerning custody or time-sharing. However, Florida was once a state that followed the “tender years” doctrine. Under this thinking, children were better off living with a mother at a young age compared to a father. Even though this was abolished before these newest laws, the lasting impact has made many feel that fathers get the short end of the stick during time-sharing decisions.

It is important to understand that although 50-50 time-sharing is now the presumptive best option, this will not always materialize. Both parents are on equal footing at the beginning of proceedings, but the court can still make fact-based decisions that give one parent more time with their children.

If you currently have a time-sharing schedule with a former spouse, you may also have the option to modify this agreement. Contact a family law attorney today to find out what might be available to you.

Now, let’s talk about HB 775.

This new law completely shakes up the landscape of custody rights regarding unwed couples and their children. While this might seem surprising, Florida fathers, even if they were on the birth certificate or raised the child since birth, did not previously have any parental rights under the law if they were not married to the child’s mother.

Countless heartbreaking stories have emerged of fathers who desperately wanted to be involved in their children’s lives but were prohibited by law. Recently, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle decided that fathers, no matter the status of the relationship, deserve the same rights as mothers if they prove they are the biological father.

It’s not hard to see how many are calling these new laws a major turning point regarding fathers’ rights in Florida. Due to a combination of these new laws, a father who previously had little to no parental rights might soon be walking into court on equal footing with the mother.

Contact a St. Petersburg Family Law Attorney Today

Navigating family law court is hard enough when everything is set in stone. With these new laws putting the whole system in flux, you can’t risk going before a judge without experienced legal representation by your side.

At The Bardine Law Firm, we stay up-to-date on all family law updates and news and will fight for your rights in this changing system. Our lead attorney, Johnny Bardine, has over a decade of experience helping residents of St. Petersburg and Tampa overcome the challenges of divorces, separations, and child custody fights. Contact us today at (727) 605-7078 or through our website to learn more about how we can help.

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