DADs of Florida, Inc.
P. O. Box 550231
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33355-0231
(954) 493-9763 www.dadsofflorida.org
December 17, 2005
Dear Honorable State Senators, Representatives, and other elected officials:
Enclosed is proposed legislation relating to shared residential responsibility. The proposed legislation amends F.S. 61.121 to ensure equal or near equal parenting time with both the child’s parents.
As a divorced father, and the current President of DADs of Florida, Inc., I am of the humble opinion that F.S. 61.121, as currently written, is ineffective in protecting children of divorce and is unsound public policy. The non-custodial parents’ access to their children is severely limited by the failure of the family courts to grant and enforce equal or near equal parenting time.
DADs of Florida, Inc., has addressed the problem and is proposing a legislative solution sensitive to the children of divorce and their parents.
DADs of Florida, Inc., is actively seeking sponsorship that may include adjoining to existing legislation for the 2002 session.
Please contact me, Tony Spalding at email@example.com if you are interested in being a sponsor of this important piece of legislation.
I look forward to your comments and working with you and your staff.
President, Dads of Florida (503c)
Suggested Bill Language Relating to
Shared Residential Responsibility
A bill to be entitled
An act relating to shared residential responsibility; amending s. 61.121, F.S.; providing substitute terminology for rotating custody; providing a definition for shared residential responsibility; providing a presumption, a public policy, in favor of shared residential responsibility.
Be it Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
Section 1. Section 61.121, Florida Statutes, is amended, to read:
61.121 Shared residential responsibility.
(1) Shared residential responsibility is defined as a residential arrangement in which a minor child spends approximately equal time residing with each parent.
(2) It is presumed and the public policy of this state that shared residential responsibility shall be the norm.
(3) A parent who may attempt to oppose the strong public policy for shared residential responsibility shall be required to plead and prove with clear and convincing evidence that shared residential responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
(4) The trial court shall order shared residential responsibility for a minor child unless the trial court makes specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in the decree that shared residential responsibility would be detrimental to the child, such as where there is a conviction for domestic violence involving the child or a conviction for child abuse as referenced in s. 61.13(2)b(2), F.S. There shall be no presumption that shared residential responsibility, by itself, is detrimental to a child.
(5) When the trial court generates a decree either granting or in the alternative denying shared residential responsibility, the trial court shall provide specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in the decree.
(6) The trial court shall enforce this strong public policy of shared residential responsibility on any motion for modification of residential responsibility.
Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2002.
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Provides shared residential responsibility as the substitute terminology for rotating custody; provides a definition for shared residential responsibility; provides that trial courts shall order shared residential responsibility unless clear and convincing evidence shows that to do so would be detrimental to the child; provides a presumption, a public policy, in favor of shared residential responsibility; provides that the trial court must issue specific findings of fact in generating any decree; provides that the trial court shall order shared residential responsibility unless it would be detrimental to the child; and provides that the trial court shall enforce this public policy on any motion for modification of residential responsibility.
Partial reasons of why sponsoring legislation amending s. 61.121, Florida Statutes is long overdue and would create good public policy which would be in our children's interest
Section 61.001(2)(a) of the Florida Statutes was enacted by our legislature for the express purpose of preserving meaningful family relationships; which is inclusive of the father-child relationship. Trial courts by not granting equal or near equal parenting time are not following the purpose of the divorce statute. The failure of Florida’s trial courts to grant equal or near equal tine to the fathers at the time of the entry of the final divorce decree creates “entertainment dads” rather than encouraging the development of a meaningful father-child relationship.
A disproportionate percentage of fathers are designated by the government (judiciary) as non-custodial parents. The courts refuse to acknowledge that a child suffers from the lack of significant time spent with their father. Traditionally children of divorce have been deprived of equal or near equal time with each parent.
Children who are being deprived of spending significant family-parenting time with their biological fathers (being raised without their biological fathers) account for 63 percent of youth suicides, 71 percent of pregnant teenagers, 90 percent of homeless and runaway children, 85 percent of behavioral disorders exhibited by children, and 71 percent of high school dropouts. These children who have had their biological fathers unjustly yanked from them, in comparison to other children, are: (1) five times more likely to live in poverty, (2) more likely to be abused, (3) more likely to bring weapons and drugs into the classroom, (4) commit crimes, and (5) abuse alcohol and drugs. (Source, U.S. House of Representatives, Concurrent Resolution 147, Spring Session 2001)