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Legislative Positions 2018–2020 — Family Law Section

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Advocacy by sections is wholly supported by the separate resources of those voluntary organizations, and must be conducted solely in the name of each such group. Section lobbying does not implicate the mandatory membership fee paid by any Florida Bar licensee.

July 27, 2018

1. Supports amendments to Florida’s domestic violence laws that would include amending §741.30(6)(a)7, Florida Statutes, to authorize the court to enter relief to protect minor children of a domestic violence victim as well as the victim.

2. Opposes legislation that would seek to remove from the courts in any way the establishment, modification or enforcement of family support, and/or that would seek to place consideration, effectuation or adjudication of these issues under the jurisdiction of the Department of Revenue or any other governmental or administrative body.

3. Supports adequate funding for dependency courts and for all Chapter 39, F.S. proceedings relating to children.

4. Supports the establishment and funding of programs to provide dependency mediation services in each judicial circuit.

5. Opposes creation of an evidentiary privilege for parent-child communications.

6. Supports amendment of §61.13(1), Florida Statutes, to clarify that a court may require either or both parents to carry life insurance or to otherwise secure child support obligations.

7. Opposes removing or deleting the word “imminent” from §741.30(1)(a), Florida Statutes.

8. Supports amending Chapter 61, Florida Statutes, by adding a new § 61.406, Florida Statutes, authorizing an award of reasonable fees and costs to a duly appointed guardian ad litem, and further authorizing the guardian to apply for and enforce such an award in his or her own name without the necessity of counsel.

9. Supports amending § 742.045, Florida Statutes, allowing the award of appellate fees and costs in paternity matters, consistent with existing language of § 61.16, Florida Statute.

10. Opposes any proposed legislation that disturbs the finality of judgments determining parentage of children without consideration or inclusion of a statute of repose, a best interests of child standard consistent with established public policy of the State, and the elements and burden of proof of fraud.

11. Supports an amendment to §61.30 (1) (a), Florida Statutes (Child Support Guidelines; Retroactive Child Support), deleting the words ““or mediation agreement”” in the second to last sentence.

12. Opposes any extension of administrative procedures for a determination of paternity outside of the constitutionally established judiciary branch of state government.

13. Supports the amendment of §63.042, Florida Statutes, to permit a court to excuse the consent of an adoptive parent’s spouse when the court finds that an adoption is in the best interests of the child. The court, rather than the Department of Children & Families, should be vested with the authority to determine whether an adoptive parent’s disability should prohibit the person from adopting.

14. Supports adequate funding of the state courts system, state attorneys’ offices, public defenders’ offices and court-appointed counsel.

15. Supports amending Florida Statutes, Chapters 61 and 742, Florida Statutes, to make it clear that the court has the appropriate discretion and authority to, upon good cause shown by a party, modify temporary support orders on a retroactive basis, even in the absence of a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.

16. Opposes legislation deleting the term “repeat violence” in F. S. 784.046 for purposes of protective injunctions.

17. Supports the establishment of supervised visitation program standards.

18. Supports an amendment to Florida Statutes 61.14 to include subparagraphs (1)(a)1, (2), (3) (a) and (b), as well as (4) to enable a court to temporarily reduce support under certain defined circumstances post-judgment.

19. Supports the amendment to Florida Statutes section 61.30 (16) to adjust the child support statutory guidelines no less than every 3 years to ensure that Federal Poverty Guidelines are properly adjusted within those statutory guidelines.

20. Supports amending §61.30(6) F.S. which would provide that when the parents combined income exceeds the child support guidelines schedule amounts that the percentages contained at the end of subparagraph (6) not be used as a basis for awarding child support beyond the reasonable needs of the parties’ children.

21. Supports an amendment to §61.30 11 (d) F.S. which would codify current case law addressing the formula for calculating child support in split custody cases.

22. Strongly opposes any amendment to 61.30 F.S. which would delegate the obligation to review and if appropriate, reconfigure the child support guidelines schedule in Florida Statutes, Chapter 61, to the Supreme Court of the State of Florida or the State of Florida, Department of Revenue.

26. Opposes the incorporation of Family Team Conferencing as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism unless it incorporates the appropriate procedural safeguards.
24. Supports the inclusion of the definition of “incarcerated parent” in Chapter 39, Florida Statutes.

25. Supports the inclusion of limiting language in setting aside paternity based upon fraud or misrepresentation for child support termination purposes.

26. Supports an amendment to §61.30(2)(b) to include subparagraphs 1.,2., 3. and 4. which defines the criteria for imputation of income for child support calculation purposes under the statutory child support guidelines, assigns the evidentiary burden to the party seeking to impute the income; makes mandatory the obligation to make findings of fact when imputation of income occurs; creates a rebuttable presumption pertaining to imputation of the minimum wage to parties residing in the State of Florida and outside of the State of Florida; and finally limits those circumstances when a court may not impute income beyond minimum wage requirements.

27. Supports an amendment to Chapter 39 F. S. applying Florida’s Putative Father Registry to all termination of parental rights actions. An unmarried biological father’s consent is on required when he acts to protect his parental rights by legally establishing his rights or registering with Florida’s Putative Father Registry prior to the date the petition to terminate parental rights is filed with the court.

28. Supports amendment to Chapter 39 F. S. which would clearly set forth the intent that application of the Florida Putative Father Registry would differ in Dependency/Shelter proceedings and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings as the interests of the child were different in each proceeding.

29. Supports an amendment to Chapter 39 F. S. which would provide juvenile judges with the authority to enter legally recordable paternity judgments, child support order and income deduction orders.

30. Supports amendment to Chapter 339 F. S. that applying Florida’s Putative Father Registry to Dependency/Shelter proceeding by personally providing a father identified as a result of §39.503 F. S. inquiry with a disclosure on his paternal responsibility to register with Florida Putative Father Registry, support his child and legally establish his rights to the child. Such a father would have 30 days from personal receipt of the disclosure to assert his rights by registering with Florida’s Putative Father Registry.

31. Supports legislation intended to clarify the nature of marital and non-marital assets in Florida Statutes Chapter 61 proceedings.

32. Supports legislation allowing trial courts to temporarily reduce, suspend or abate child support in temporary circumstances necessitating a reduction of support.

33. Opposes legislation removing the need for a father to be current in his support to seek disestablishment of paternity.

34. Opposes legislation re attorney ad litem representation that seeks to regulate the profession, instruct and/or train lawyers on how they should represent their clients, and that allows another governmental branch agency to train lawyers.

35. Opposes legislation that remedies barriers to remarriage through equitable distribution.

36. Supports legislation designed to promote and implement a Unified Family Court.

37. Supports legislation that expands the range of both civil and criminal sanctions imposed against those who violate existing injunctions for protection against domestic, repeat, sexual and dating violence.

38. Supports amendments to F.S. §61.14 & 742.08 regarding the enforcement and accrual of interest on child support, alimony, and spousal support judgments.

39. Supports amendments to F.S. §61.30 to streamline, simplify, and clarify the methodology of calculating child support.

40. Supports amendments to F.S. §61.13001 streamlining the requirements and criteria governing relocation.

41. Supports amendments to §61.075, F.S. to allow for the assessment of interest and award of security regarding delayed equitable distribution payments.

42. Supports amendments to F.S. §61.08 (alimony statute) to recognize the court’s discretion to fashion alimony awards that are appropriate based upon the statutory factors including bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent alimony.

43. Supports legislation to allow not-for-profit legal aid associations to certify guardians ad litem who have taken a uniform statewide training program for cases under F.S. Chapter 61 where there are no well-founded allegations of abuse, abandonment or neglect; to not require such legal aid associations to certify guardians ad litem; and to penalize for false statements or omissions on a guardian ad litem application. Opposes legislation allowing lay guardians ad litem without the foregoing safeguards.

44. Supports legislation providing for notice to relatives of the existence of proceedings and investigations under Chapter 39 so long as the added burden of giving notice does not result in attorneys, investigators and others working for DCF having less time to work directly to protect children.

45. Opposes legislation allowing one party to obtain assignment of a retired judge or justice with payment of the retired judge or justice by the prevailing party in a matter governed by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

46. Supports legislation allowing sheriffs to serve faxed copies of previously certified domestic violence injunctions.

47. Opposes legislation granting immunity from suit to mental health professionals licensed under Chapter 491 who disclose confidential communications when they believe there is a clear and immediate probability of certain harm.

48. Supports the expansion of actions which constitute violations of injunctions for protection to include coming into close proximity of the petitioner’s dwelling, vehicle, school or place of business; defacing or destroying petitioner’s vehicle or refusing to surrender firearms or ammunition after being ordered to do so by the court issuing the injunction.

49. Supports legislation specifying that transfers of homestead property between husband and wife, whether incident to a dissolution of marriage or otherwise, are not to be considered a “change of ownership” for homestead exemption purposes.

50. Opposes legislation regarding child support which creates a presumption that health insurance is affordable if it is 5% or less of a parent’s gross income.

51. Supports mandatory and discretionary appointment of attorneys for children predicated on the understanding that funding for any attorney ad litem program does not jeopardize funding of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem program, that the administration of the program is not through the Statewide Guardian ad Litem program or any other executive branch agency, and that any funding of the program does not jeopardize other court programs.

52. Supports the discretionary appointment of attorneys for children in the following situations: where the court has a concern that the child has a need for developmental disability, mental health or substance abuse services; and in any Chapter 39 proceedings when the Court deems it appropriate.

53. Supports the mandatory appointment of attorneys for children in the following situations: in cases where the state is seeking to administer or administers psychotropic medications to a child subject to a Chapter 39 proceeding; where the child is the subject of a proceeding in which the state is seeking the commitment or placement of the child for longer than 72 hours to a secure residential treatment facility, including licensed care under chapters 39, 393, 394, and 397 of the Florida Statutes; to a child involved in a Chapter 39 proceeding at the age of 16 years; in any case where someone is asserting a psychotherapist-patient waiver on behalf of a child; or for a child who is the subject of an application for services pursuant to Chapter 393, Florida Statutes, where the application was denied and the matter proceeds to the administrative appellate level.

54. Supports legislation that maintains current uniform laws that have been enacted in Florida that pertain to Marital & Family Law.

55. Supports legislation regarding child abduction prevention.

56. Supports legislation that will allow a duly licensed attorney acting as a guardian ad litem in Chapter 61 proceedings to also act as the attorney for the guardian ad litem.

57. Supports legislation that requires the court to allow an adoption entity to intervene in dependency proceedings where the parent has executed a consent for adoption.

58. Opposes legislation that requires only a best interests standard in allowing a third party to be delegated or awarded timesharing or visitation with a minor child.

59. Supports legislation in F.S. chapter 39 proceedings that would facilitate the establishment of paternity to achieve permanency for children.

60. Supports legislation removing subsection (14) from § 61.30 of the Florida Statutes.

61. Supports legislation that establishes a coveture fraction formula to determine the value of a marital contribution to non-marital property.

62. Supports legislation that would advance funding for the development of a uniform objective statewide program for certifying and training Guardian Ad Litems under F.S. Chapter 61 cases.

63. Supports continued consideration of both marital and non-marital assets in determining need and ability to pay for alimony awards.

64. Supports codification of existing case law that an award of life insurance to secure an award of alimony can only happen in exceptional circumstances after determining need and ability to pay.

65. Opposes any proposed legislation that would allow modification or termination of existing awards of alimony based solely on legislative changes to 61.08.

66. Supports amendment of chapter 88 to fix certain “glitches” created by the 2011 amendments of the statute which provided for adoption of the 2008 version of Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

67. Opposes any rule or proposed legislation which attempts to limit the Court’s discretion in limiting suit money in temporary matters.

68. Supports the codification of existing case law providing that retroactivity as to modification or termination of alimony awards shall be discretionary with the trial court.

69. Supports the amendment of F.S. §61.08, to allow the court to consider adultery in determining the amount of alimony based upon specific findings that the adultery caused a significant depletion in the marital assets or caused a significant reduction in income

70. Opposes bifurcation of dissolution of marriage actions except with a reservation of jurisdiction in exceptional circumstances when it is clearly necessary for the best interests of the parties or their children.

71. Supports the codification of existing case law relating to the modification or termination of alimony awards consistent with Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So.2d 534 (Fla. 1992).

72. Opposes legislation that would change the definition of “abandonment” under Chapter 63, Florida Statutes.

73. Opposes amendments to Chapter 63, Florida Statutes, relating to adoption proceedings which contradict or conflict with Chapters 39 and/or 742, Florida Statutes, relating to paternity proceedings.

74. Opposes amendments to the definition of unmarried biological father under Chapter 63, Florida Statutes.

75. Opposes amendments to Chapter 63, Florida Statutes relating to the date the birth mother identifies the putative father.

76. Opposes any amendments to the definition of “parent” under Chapter 63, Florida Statutes.

77. Opposes removing or eliminating any requirement that a party search the putative father registry.

78. Opposes excepting “safe haven” adoptions from DCF investigation.

79. Opposes any amendments eliminating or reducing DCF’s responsibility to investigate any possible abuse, abandonment or neglect of a child.

80. Opposes removing the court’s discretion to order scientific testing.

81. Opposes any amendments reducing a father’s opportunity to establish his legal rights to a child.

82. Opposes any requirement which reduces an identified putative unmarried biological father’s right to due process under Chapter 63, Florida Statutes.

83. Opposes legislation that would seek to limit, to remove or to prohibit a party’s right to contract where no violation of the public policy of this state exists.

84. Supports legislation that provides more predictability and certainty to courts in making alimony determinations.

85. Opposes legislation that would completely eliminate judicial discretion in making alimony determinations.

86. Supports legislation that promotes the active and equal involvement of both parents in parenting issues with no presumption for or against any timesharing schedule.

87. Opposes any presumption regarding timesharing as each family is unique and a timesharing schedule should be considered on a case by case basis.

88. Opposes term limits for judges at any level of Florida’s state court system.

89. Supports legislation which bases the percentage of the elective share upon the length of the decedent’s marriage to the surviving spouse, in a scale that provides a lower percentage for shorter-length marriages and a higher percentage for longer-length marriages.

90. Opposes any legislation that permits the administrative establishment of a timesharing schedule or parenting plan.

91. Supports legislation providing that the legal age to marry should be eighteen (18).

92. Supports the right of a biological parent to pursue and, when appropriate, establish his or her parental rights when the biological parent has demonstrated or evinced a settled purpose to assume parental responsibilities and when doing so would be in the best interest of the child.

93. Supports the concept that a child may legally have two mothers, two fathers or, when appropriate, more than two parents. The best interests of the child must be the foremost concern in determining such matters.

94. Supports legislation that includes general magistrates, child support hearing officers, administrative general magistrates and administrative hearing officers within the Senior Management Service Class of the Florida Retirement System.

95. Opposes any legislation that authorizes the temporary placement of a child in a non-relative unlicensed respite home unless a licensed child placing agency conducts a home study, trains the respite family and monitors the child’s placement under generally accepted methods implemented to protect the child’s best interests.

96. (A) Opposes any legislation that removes, impedes or interferes with the Court’s ability to enforce any child support obligation, and (B) Opposes any legislation that removes, impedes or interferes with the Court’s and/or an Administrative Agency’s ability to enforce an order requiring an individual to submit to genetic testing.

97. Supports legislation to provide for gender neutrality in marital and family legislation.

98. Opposes the constitutional revision that has been proposed by Proposal 22 to Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution (Right of Privacy), limiting that right only to privacy of information and disclosure.

99. Opposes the constitutional revision relating to grandparent’s visitation rights that has been proposed by Proposal 64 to Article I, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution (Right of Privacy), that provides that this section shall not be construed to limit those rights.

October 1, 2019

100. Supports legislation that codifies and clarifies a parent’s obligation to support an incapacitated or dependent-in-fact adult child.

December 20, 2019

101. Supports establishing conditions for the transition of custody and the return of a child to a parent under Chapter 751 when necessary to prevent detriment to the child and provided the parents’ fundamental rights are protected.

February 17, 2020

102. Supports legislation promoting judicial education on attachment and bonding between children and caregivers, stable placement for children and the impacts of trauma on child development; and establishing Early Childhood Court Programs for infants and toddlers in dependency matters.