Both Missouri and Florida legislatures have enacted laws that mandate a rebuttable presumption for Equal Shared Parenting. In Missouri it’s now the law. In Florida, we will have to wait for Governor DeSantis to take a break from his election campaign to sign the bill into law. Florida polling shows overwhelming support for this ESP initiative.
Let me share the key parts of each bill with you. Bolds italics are mine.
Missouri’s Governor has recently signed HB35 into law.
Here is a key excerpt:
There shall be a rebuttable presumption that an award of equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent is in the best interests of the child. Such presumption is rebuttable only by a preponderance of the evidence in accordance with all relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the factors contained in subdivisions (1) to (8) of this subsection. The presumption may be rebutted if the court finds that the parents have reached an agreement on all issues related to custody, or if the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence has occurred as set out in subdivision (6) of this subsection.
Florida’s equal shared parenting presumption bill has recently passed both chambers of the Florida legislature by overwhelming margins. In the Florida House, the vote was 105 in favor of the bill; only five members opposed. In the Florida Senate, there were 34 votes in favor and with a mere three dissenters.
1. It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. Unless as otherwise provided in this section or agreed to by the parties, there is a rebuttable presumption that equal sharing of a minor child is in the best interests of the minor child. To rebut this presumption, a party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that equal timesharing is not in the best interests of the minor child. Except when a time-sharing schedule is agreed to by the parties and approved by the court, the court must evaluate all of the factors set forth in subsection (3) and make specific written findings of fact when creating or modifying a timesharing schedule.
The onus appears to be on the ESP objector. That really creates a very strong presumption. Rebuttable for sure – but still it’s a very strong presumption indeed. Family Violence is a legitimate contra indication to ESP. No parent and no child should be exposed to such a risk. It is clearly in the interest of all genders to support a rebuttable presumption for Equal Shared Parenting. We know that kids of separation and divorce do considerably better for the most part when their parents remain involved and engaged. The research is in – I have recently commented on that point.
It’s time for Canada and Ontario to get on board.