While the Florida First agenda that Gov. Ron DeSantis has put forth since taking office has catapulted the state’s profile across the nation, the Family First initiative, which includes his Parental Rights in Education law, he has also championed has set Florida apart from the other states.
Like many other dads, including myself, Gov. DeSantis, a devoted husband, and father of 3 little rugrats sees the importance of putting the American family first.
DeSantis regularly invokes his wife and daughter whenever he speaks on issues or legislation that involves families and could bolster his Family First bona fides by signing the Dissolution of Marriage (SB 1796) legislative measure in the coming weeks.
The measure calls for permanent lifetime alimony to be eliminated and calls for divorcing parties who share parental duties to be considered equal before the law at the initial hearing to determine the time-sharing of their children. This, of course, is just the beginning of the conversation on time-sharing. The judge still has to consider 20 factors in law to determine if equal time-sharing is in the best interests of the children.
The reason the bill calls for an initial rebuttable presumption in favor of equal time-sharing of children is that the unprecedented and unfortunate degrading of a child’s development is often due to the lack of equal parental involvement in that child’s life.
What’s worse is that among boys, the lack of a father, or a “Minimally-involved” father leads to a higher rate of suicide.
According to Dr. Warren Farrell, author the book, ‘The Boy Crisis,’ the single biggest link to suicide among boys was due to having a minimally-involved father or an absent father.
In addition, in the case of divorce, ugly and lengthy court battles fueled by divorce attorneys lead to many cases of “minimally-involved” fatherhood.
The bill does two important things to help Florida families. First, it reduces the vagueness in Florida divorce laws, making it harder for divorce lawyers to encourage litigation to the point of bankruptcy. This will reduce the animosity and resentment among the divorcing parties, allowing those parents to be better co-parents going forward.
Second, the bill creates a rebuttable presumption that mom and dad should both be equally involved in their children’s life, absent some showing that one of the parents should not share in that time with their children. Divorce lawyers oppose this measure as it makes it much harder to weaponize children during a divorce in order to force one parent to pay more money to the other parent.
During a recent appearance on House Speaker Chris Sprowls’ “Red, White, and Blue” podcast, Dr. Farrell outlined the four must “dos” for parents who are getting a divorce.
—Children have an equal amount of time with mom and dad
—Do not live more than 20 minutes drive time from each other
—No badmouthing of the other parents because children can detect the resentment
—Parents must have consistent couples communication counseling
“The absence of fathers—this includes the fact that they do not get equal time with their children—is the primary driver of the boy crisis. Both mothers and fathers are indispensable and contribute uniquely to raising children. With and custody laws favoring mothers, more children are missing Dad’s, rather than Mom’s, influence. Just some of the effects of dad deprivation include higher rates of suicide, drug use, violence, hypertension, poverty, lack of empathy, and ADHD,” stated Dr. Farrell.
Farrell’s concerns are echoed by the Miami-based Christian Family Coalition, whose founder Anthony Verdugo, recently sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis expressing his concern over parents not sharing equal time with children.
The Christian Family Coalition letter stated, “The sad reality is that the current process of dissolution empowers divorce attorneys to extend and elongate litigation, instilling anger, animosity and hatred between divorcing adults. That animosity carries forward into the lives of the children and impacts their mental and emotional well-being, making it harder for them to carry forward positive family values. The incredible cost of divorce, mostly going to pay for those consultants and attorneys that facilitate divorce, also plays a detrimental role in depleting the family of funds, making it harder for separated couples to maintain a healthy respect for one another while rearing their children. This bill helps resolve both of these problems by significantly reducing litigation and allowing families to keep more of their hard-earned income for family purposes.”
Children are the most precious of all commodities. The preservation of our children’s well-being must be paramount to all Americans, regardless of political affiliation or persuasion.
A family-first agenda in Florida would be considerably re-enforced by signing Senate Bill 1796.