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Senate approves bill favoring presumption of equal parenting time

One of the biggest fears many Florida fathers have when they get divorced is what will happen to their relationship with their children. It is not unusual for people to assume that a mother will typically be awarded primary custody while a father receives visitation on weekends or every other week.

While that may have often been the case in the past, the fact is that many states are moving toward a shared parenting approach to resolving custody matters. If a bill recently passed by the Senate is approved, Florida will be no different.

According to reports, the state Senate approved a bill that would require judges to start off a custody determination process by presuming a child will spend equal time with both parents. The judge would then take into consideration 20 criteria to determine if that 50-50 split should remain or if adjustments need to be made.

Proponents of shared parenting will likely find much to appreciate about this bill. After all, recent studies have shown that children benefit considerably when they have consistent and frequent contact with each parent. 

However, there are critics who argue that the presumption of equal parenting time is unnecessary and potentially harmful. They note that every situation is different and should be assessed and resolved on the individual aspects of the case, not on generalities. 

There are fears on both sides of this debate, which is not unusual when it comes to issues involving potential changes to family laws. These are situations that have a very real and immediate impact on parents and kids. It will be interesting to see if this bill does in fact become a law; we will certainly be following any developments.

In the meantime, parents who are divorcing would be wise to discuss their situation with a family law attorney. Identifying, fighting for and enforcing a fair parenting plan are crucial aspects of protecting parental rights and a child's well-being.

Source: Miami Herald, "Florida Senate passes bill that helps give divorced parents equal time with children," Michael Auslen, Feb. 23, 2016

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