Florida Bar applauds legislature, governor for putting Florida families first

On behalf of The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, we extend our gratitude to the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis for their pivotal actions in passing and signing into law several key pieces of legislation that significantly uplift and safeguard families across our state.

The legislative actions – House Bill 521, Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Liabilities; House Bill 385, Safe Exchange of Minor Children; Senate Bill 86, Hope Cards for Persons Issued Orders of Protection; and House Bill 761, Interpersonal Violence Injunction Petitions Interpersonal Violence – mark substantial progress toward ensuring justice, safety, and support for all Florida families.

Speaker of the House Paul Renner, left and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo hug one another following the traditional sine die hanky drop at the end of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session on Friday, March 8, 2024.
Speaker of the House Paul Renner, left and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo hug one another following the traditional sine die hanky drop at the end of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session on Friday, March 8, 2024.

One cornerstone of a fair and just family law system is the equitable distribution of marital assets. The recent legislation enhances fairness and clarity in this realm, and we’d like to thank the sponsors – Rep. Traci Koster and Sen. Erin Grall – for expertly guiding the legislation through the process. This update is crucial for providing proper guidance to the judiciary as well as providing both spouses with the opportunity to rebuild their lives on stable financial footing, fostering a more balanced and equitable process for all involved.

Significantly, the legislature also approved legislation championed by Rep. Joel Rudman, along with Sen. Clay Yarborough, on the safe exchange of minor children. Born out of terrible circumstances, this legislation strives to ensure the well-being of children and families during timesharing exchanges of a child by simply strengthening the law that gives courts the discretion to determine if, because of imminent threat of harm, it is necessary to exchange a child at a neutral, safe exchange location as designated by a local sheriff or a supervised visitation center.

By enacting this law that facilitates the safe exchange of minor children – protecting both the child and guardian – the legislature has taken a proactive step in minimizing the potential for conflict and trauma during such transfers.

Additionally, the Hope Card program, approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, represents a significant advancement in supporting survivors of domestic violence. These cards, which provide essential information and resources in a discreet and accessible format, empower survivors with the tools they need to seek help and stay safe. By making support more readily available, the legislature and governor have demonstrated a profound commitment to protecting and assisting those who are vulnerable. We are also grateful to Reps. Michael Gottlieb and Traci Koster, along with Sen. Lauren Book, for their steadfast support of this measure.

Similarly, combatting interpersonal violence is a critical issue that impacts countless individuals and families. The passage and signing of HB 761, Interpersonal Violence Injunction Petitions Interpersonal Violence, underscores our state's dedication to addressing and mitigating this pervasive problem. By strengthening legal protections and resources for victims of interpersonal violence, Florida is setting a commendable standard in its efforts to create safer communities and hold perpetrators accountable.

The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar is grateful to the sponsors of each of these bills for the opportunity to provide input and sincerely thanks the legislature for their legislative actions, and Gov. DeSantis for his commitment to signing these bills into law.

These policies are not merely legal formalities; they are lifelines that put Florida’s families first, promoting justice, safety, and support for all Floridians. Together, we are taking meaningful steps to ensure that our family law system continually evolves to meet the needs of those it serves.

Sarah Kay
Sarah Kay

Sarah Kay chairs the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida Bar applauds DeSantis in putting Florida families first

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