TALLAHASSEE (FNN) – A new proposed bill would forbid sexual offenders and sexual predators from time-sharing custody of their children, except in cases where the courts would find mitigating circumstances, as heard in front of the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives.
House Bill 141 was presented to the subcommittee by Representative Thomas Leek, chair of the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, who said the bill came from a true case.
“A woman married less than one month after her son was born ended up seeing her husband arrested on five charges of sexual solicitation of a minor,” Leek told the subcommittee. “The husband had an inappropriate online relationship with an undercover officer which he believed to be a thirteen-year-old girl. He was sentenced to three years in prison, five years sex offender probation, and a lifetime of being on the registry.
“Many courts go into a time-sharing hearing believing both parties should have equal custody. In normal situations that should work. I believe that de facto presumption is flipped on its head. If you are a convicted sexual predator as an adult, then you are not entitled to custody unless a court makes a specific finding that indicates that your child is safe,” he added.
The bill indicates there is a general prohibition from the court from granting child time-sharing if the parent has to register in the sex offender registry if the offender is over 18 years old and the victim was under 18 years old and provides discretion for courts to find attenuating circumstances, as in a “Romeo and Juliet” situation, that is, where the victim is seventeen years old and the offender is eighteen.
The bill was unanimously favored and is expected to be turned into law.
Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org