By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, August 6, 2015.
Florida is not the only state looking to modify its custody laws. Add Florida to another 20 states which are currently considering measures that move their laws toward more equal custody arrangements.
As the Boston Globe reports, Massachusetts is considering changing its custody laws:
Battles over custody and child support are as old as divorce itself. But as parenting norms have shifted in the past half-century – the “Leave It To Beaver” setup giving way to one in which 71% of women work outside the home and more fathers are engaged in child care – lawmakers seem increasingly willing to consider that long-standing child custody statutes might warrant review.
Changes would make statutes align more closely with research suggesting children benefit from spending ample time with both parents. One study released earlier this year in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that children living in joint-physical custody arrangements exhibited fewer psychosomatic issues than those living with just one parent.
The movement has attracted critics. Groups expressed concern over blanket statutes guaranteeing parents a certain amount of visitation time. Instead, they argue, custody disputes should be handled on a case-by-case basis, always with a child’s best interests in mind.
It used to be that custody disputes fell under the “tender years” doctrine, a rule that a child’s best interest is to be placed with the mother when they’re young. Florida has abandoned the tender years doctrine.
In Massachusetts, the proposed legislation strongly encourages, but does not mandate, courts to grant shared custody in which a child would spend no less than one-third of the time with each parent.
I wrote about Florida’s efforts earlier this year to modify our child custody laws. At the time there were two competing bills. The Florida House bill would have required:
Approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is presumed to be in the best interest of the child.
The other bill, which was in the Florida Senate, wrote:
Absent good cause, it is in the minor child’s best interests to have substantial time sharing with both parents.
A Utah law that went into effect two months ago requires that all qualifying noncustodial parents’ minimum visitation days increase from 110 per year to 145.
Two years ago, an Arizona law went into effect preventing courts from giving preference to either gender in custody cases.
The outcome in Florida is yet to be determined.