Tuesday

For Those of You Who Just Don't Get It

In light of the fact that the most frequently Googled search that lands readers on my page is the Florida House Bill 1075 on Child Custody and Support, and also the fact that often times, as a recently admitted survivor of domestic violence, I fail to thoroughly articulate my views and successfully argue my points, I am copying an excellent press release I have found on the matter. (emphasis added)

Now it may seem a day late and a dollar short since this bill has already been passed, but we don't have to bend over and keep taking it in the ***...


CITIZENS' OUTCRY TO CHARLIE CRIST PROTECT THE CHILDREN OF FLORIDA –
VETO SB2532

May 7, 2008

While Floridians sleep, a raging war continues to threaten the safety and stability of children and families across the state. Republican, Senator Evelyn Lynn and Republican, Representative Jim Frishe, sponsored Senate Bill 2532 and House Bill 1075, entitled: Child Custody and Support.

What few citizens know, is that this bill will drastically change existing Florida statute without the knowledge or approval of the Florida population. Additionally, the bill seems only to benefit and profit special interests of the mental health industry and the legal community, who also authored SB 2532- HB 1075. As a result, families will be burdened with excessive litigation and other court related costs on a permanent basis, due to the bill's confusing language and non-defined terms of the amendment.

According to Representative Frishe, the over 100 pages of SB 2532 and its companion House Bill 1075, took almost two years to write. Yet, during this two years process, the bill was never brought to the public, town hall meetings or the media's attention. The life-altering amendments and extravagant costs to implement this bill, have been pushed so fast, that
concerned citizens are left to believe that this pace is intended to curtail public knowledge and to silence the voices and concerns of Florida voters.

One of many red flags of SB 2532 - HB 1075, is the disregard of children affected by violence or sexual abuse: According to victims, protective parents and advocates: Psychologists are customarily getting assigned by the courts to assist in determining the custody of children. These court appointed evaluators are getting paid up to $30,000.00 to $40,000.00, not including, attorneys' costs, which can reach up to $160,000.00 or up per citizen.

The payments to custody evaluators are frequently paid by the abusers, to help in his or hers defense. Subsequently, bias comes into play, as the court appointed evaluators dismiss key proof and testimony; Failing to report overwhelming amount of evidence of abuse or neglect committed by the offender and paying party. This alarming constitutional violation has been denounced by many professionals in the nation, including: A research task by
the American Bar Association, multitude judicial watchdog groups and experts in the medical, psychiatry and psychology fields.

What seems inconceivable to opponents of SB 2532 -HB 1075, is that this bill amends Florida statute to remove the current standards from the American Psychological Association by replacing them with vague and subjective language to, "The standards of any reasonable psychologist." Offering less professional guidelines and accountability to the psychologists involved with thousands of Florida children and families affected by these precarious evaluations: Who determines what is considered, a "reasonable" psychologist, is yet another unanswered question to analysts and critics of this bill.

In addition, as concerned citizens seek more accountability and higher standards regarding the safety and future of Florida's children, SB 2532- HB 1075, will provide greater immunity to evaluators, as the bill extends immunity, even to third parties. Furthermore, SB 2532 - HB1075 removes the preference of children regarding where these children wish to live. Again, eliminating, what could be valid concerns or requests by the children to court evaluators, who act in the capacity of: Quasi judges, paid witnesses (with complete immunity) or worse, being able to dismiss evidence that could affect the future and endanger the lives of thousands of children across the state.

Likewise troublesome to concerned citizens, is that the bill changes the presumption for separating or divorcing families with children from the current standards of Primary and Secondary residency, according to established patterns of time or existing bond between the child and caregiver, essential to the development and emotional stability of children, to "Time Sharing," which has yet to be specifically defined
under SB 2532.

Currently, included in Chapter 61 statutes, Primary and SecondaryResidency, follows: "Under the Tender Years" doctrine, which places priority, and emphasis on the children's emotional ties, as well as their need for security and stability. In contrast, under the new "Time Sharing" law of SB2532, children will be viewed according to old English laws; As the property of the highest paying litigant and for the state's determination. Children will be split in half, between two separate residences, equal amount of time, disregarding the child's emotional bond with his or her primary caregiver, the impact of drastic changes and the emotional wellbeing of the children.

Additionally, leading national studies, validate the negative impact that 50/50 custody, or disrupting the child' emotional bond or time patterns with his or hers caregiver, continues to have on children. Under SB 2532- HB 1075, the standards that most adults would consider intolerable or unacceptable, will now be imposed on children, as young, as of newborn or breastfeeding age. Interestingly, this redressed presumption of joint
custody, was denounced, by both, the citizens of Florida and voted against by legislators, less than two years ago
.

Critics of SB 2532 - HB 1075 point to the fact that while states like Tennessee, California, Oklahoma, Colorado and others are moving toward more accountability to professionals in the courts, especially in cases involving sexual abuse or violence against children, and more toward standard and higher evidentiary procedure, Florida is moving further away from due process and protection of human rights. This, at the expense of the most vulnerable of Florida's population: Children and their protective parents.

Finally, in a hurting economy, the cost to Floridians to implement this precarious bill will be millions of dollars; Time and money expenditure in training of personnel, computer reprogramming, re-printing forms, etc. SB 2532 - HB 1075 will make its last stop in the Senate and House floor this week, as it traveled from committee to committee with high approval in the
state's capitol, even against an out pour of phone calls and emails from concerned constituents.

Governor Charlie Crist, has the executive power, to veto this bill, like his predecessor, Governor Jeb Bush, did few years ago due to the sky rocketing costs to the state and the negative impact that this bill has to the citizens of Florida.

Therefore, the citizens of Florida trust that Governor Charlie Crist, will have the interest of the Florida population in mind; That he will stand for the rights of Floridians and not for special interests and that he will veto, the one hundred pages of bureaucracy and red tape, contained in SB 2532 and HB 1075.

For more information contact: National Alliance for Family Court Justice at WWW.NAFCJ.ORG, Liz Richards

0 advocates for peace: