Florida Legislature Uses Part of 2008 Session to Make Changes to Family Law Statutes
Florida State lawmakers make modifications in statues that call for the words “parenting” and “parenting plan” to replace the word “custody”; and for “time-sharing” to replace “visitation”, “access and contact.”
CLEARWATER - While elements like property insurance, higher education and guns at work received most of the publicity during the 2008 Florida Legislative Session; state lawmakers also made some substantial changes to the statutes that govern Family Law.
The two most significant modifications made were the establishing of parenting plans, and a change in language use in litigation associated with children. Parenting plans are the documents required to manage the relationship between parties concerning the decisions made regarding minor children.
The language change involves the words “custody”, “custody litigation”, “primary residence”, “visitation”, and “access and contact.” These terms can no longer be used during legal proceedings involving children. Instead, “parenting” and “parenting plan litigation” replace “custody” and “custody litigation”; and “time-sharing” replaces “visitation, access and contact.”
“The legislature made changes that more closely resemble what we’re trying to convey to our clients,” said Gary Williams, Attorney at the Law Firm for Family Law. “Keeping both parents involved in all aspects of the child’s life is something I ask my clients to remember even though their relationship with the other parent has changed.”
Further, the law expands to make time-sharing schedules, previously called visitation rights, mandatory in parenting plan considerations of shared parental responsibility.
The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar is praising the changes saying that the new language will hopefully reduce litigation that arises from these “arcane terms.” They are also forming a committee to develop their own proposed Form Plan. However, others feel that clients will not be able to afford the extra parenting plan arrangements.
“While for years we in Family Law have been using the older terms, this presents a shift in mind-set,” Williams said. “Instead of trying to win custody battles, we can work together for the best parental sharing arrangement.”
Due to the widespread revisions that had to be made to the statutes and to many forms, this law did not go into effect until October 1, 2008.
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