The Florida Legislature has passed a law to protect parents who share custody

A bill that would allow courts to require parents who share custody of their children to conduct timeshare exchanges at “neutral, secure exchange locations” is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Senate voted 37-1 on Wednesday to approve the bill (HB 385), which was unanimously approved by the House last month.

Under the bill, courts could order the exchange of children at the neutral sites if, for example, “the court determines that there is a risk or imminent risk of harm to a party or the child during the exchange.”

County sheriffs would be required to designate at least one parking lot at the sheriff's office or substation as a safe transition location. Such locations would have to meet various requirements, such as adequate lighting, video surveillance and 24-hour accessibility.

Sen. Lori Berman, a Boca Raton Democrat who cast the lone dissenting vote Wednesday, said she was “concerned about how the courts will interpret the bill.”

“I believe there should be no exchange if there is an imminent threat of harm. Or at least it should be a monitored exchange,” Berman said.

Senate sponsor Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, characterized the bill as meaning that the courts' hands would not be tied when it came to so-called “court-ordered parenting plans.”

“I would say we're still giving the court an opportunity to consider all the factors and make sure there are no threats that weren't made and that they didn't take into account,” Yarborough said.

The bill is called the Cassi-Carli Act and is named after a northwest Florida mother who disappeared after meeting her child's father to conduct a timeshare exchange. Carli was later found dead in Alabama.

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