As Senate Bill 1796, legislation related to family law and child time-sharing awaits Family First Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, left-wing groups such as the progressive League of Women Voters and the National Organization of Women (NOW) continue to lobby against the measure on behalf of trial lawyers who stand to lose millions of dollars in billable hours if Gov. DeSantis signs this family-first bill into law.
The League of Women Voters and NOW, who have historically opposed Gov. DeSantis on stances he has taken on controversial issues and legislation like SB 90, the Parental Rights in Education bill, and the recent 15-week abortion bill, to name a few, are trying to kill the measure.
The two groups are represented by Barbara DeVane, who recently stated on behalf of NOW, that Gov. DeSantis should veto SB 1796. Also leading the charge in opposing the bill is the liberal Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, which is comprised of divorce lawyers.
Trial Lawyers appear poised to predictably attempt to block this reform, as supporters of SB 1796 are calling the trial lobby the proverbial foxes guarding the henhouse, acting as the self-appointed protectors of vulnerable women and children.
The same proponents of the legislation contend that if they truly have the best interests of families at heart, they would support the enactment of SB 1796 to provide guidelines, create predictability, reduce contentious litigation and treat mothers and fathers equally.
On the conservative side, supporting the legislation, stand several Family First and parental rights organizations, such as the Florida Christian Family Coalition, Man Up and Go, National Parents Organization, The Heritage Foundation and other pro-family groups that have reached out to the Governor’s office.
Conservative groups argue that the fair guidelines in the bill would leave Florida families with more income in their family accounts, rather than in the pockets of divorce lawyers.
In addition, conservative groups appreciate that the pro-family legislation includes a presumption that mom and dad are both equal in the eyes of the law as they walk into court, even though a judge would still have to analyze 20 different factors to ensure the time-sharing is in the best interests of the child.
Marc Johnson, Chairman of Florida Family Fairness, a proponent of the bill has worked tirelessly for years to modernize Florida’s alimony law and said, “The reasonable bill that passed during the 2022 legislative session was a thoughtful and well-planned approach that would bring Florida’s alimony laws in line with other states, creating predictability and equity in a process that has historically torn families apart.”
The measure (SB 1796) 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 since a judge will have to play a key role in any decision related to the equal time-sharing of 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.
The Family Law Section, NOW and the League contend that a 50/50 child custody of minors is dangerous to the well-being of children in limited cases of abuse.
Marc Johnson disagreed and added, “It’s time to do what is best for Florida families by de-weaponizing children and enacting fair guidelines and predictability to the divorce process, with the byproduct being less litigation and financial destruction to hardworking families.”