New Florida statute will strip registered parents of parental rights

By Sandy . . . FAC, NARSOL’s Florida affiliate, has called this legislation a parent’s worst nightmare.

The reference is to Florida HB 141 that Governor Ron DeSantis signed June 21. It is entitled, “Parenting and Time-Sharing of a Minor Child for a Convicted Parent,” and it addresses the granting of full or shared custody of minor children to two categories of persons with criminal and some misdemeanor convictions: domestic violence and sexual offenses, providing that the victims of the offenses were under eighteen years of age.

It creates a “rebuttable presumption” against such parents being granted full or partial custody. This means that the presumption exists that such persons will be unfit parents and will not be allowed custody BUT that they may rebut, or officially protest, such a presumption being applied to them. In other words, it creates an exception and a path to protest the presumption if certain steps are followed.

As the intent of this piece is not to explore how often those with sexual offense convictions have favorably been on the receiving end of an exception, I will leave it to each reader to think of how many such times you can cite.

The age of consent in Florida is eighteen, and, if the proper paperwork has been filed at the proper time, a statute is in place that will allow a petition be made exempting registration if the victim was at least thirteen and the perpetrator was no more than four years older.

Imagine a young man, four years and one day older than his seventeen-year-old girlfriend, who, fifteen years ago, received a conviction for having a sexual relationship with her.

Imagine someone who was convicted for looking at illegal pornography ten years ago, one or more images portraying a person seventeen or younger. Or maybe it was legal pornography, and one of the persons depicted looked and was believed to be twenty-one but was actually seventeen.

Imagine someone convicted who had chatted online inappropriately eight years ago with a person claiming to be seventeen but in reality was a thirty-five-year-old police officer.

Imagine someone convicted a decade ago, someone who had a one-night stand with a guy she picked up in an eighteen-and-over bar, but he was actually seventeen and in there with false credentials.

And imagine someone who was innocent of any crime but had been falsely convicted.

Now – imagine any of them today, recently divorced after a five-year marriage, with a toddler for whom he or she has been the primary caregiver for the last two years of the marriage. Imagine being told that, going forward, he or she would have no legal standing as her parent and that even being able to see her was entirely dependent on the whims of an ex-wife or husband with whom there may or may not be a civil relationship.

With HB 141 now the law of the land in Florida, these and other scenarios are more than possible.

It really doesn’t bear imagining, does it?

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

22 Thoughts to “New Florida statute will strip registered parents of parental rights”

  1. AvatarJohn Paul Reed

    read the actual bill. While yes it does say that someone covicted of a sex crime wont get timed shared with their children. Yet what it does say that you wont highlight is that the law does allow the registerant, the mother, or the courts themselves to “A parent may rebut the presumption upon a specific finding in
    86 writing by the court that the parent poses no significant risk
    87 of harm to the child and that time-sharing is in the best
    88 interests of the minor child. If the presumption is rebutted,
    89 the court shall consider all time-sharing factors in subsection
    90 (3) when developing a time-sharing schedule.
    Therefore, all this law does is to give direction to the court or anyone going through a child custody battle what to do with someone on the registry. I am sure that once the court Administration starts developing the court rule and policies this will get even more clarified. What crimes a person needs to be convicted of to pose a danger or not a danger for the child. Honestly this is a good law and it should be backed by us for it. Yet. that wont be the case because you dont look at logic when looking at bills like this.

    1. Sandy RozekSandy Rozek

      Thank you, Mr. Reed; I sincerely hope that you are correct. I did address that portion of the bill in what I wrote. In fact, I tried to explain it so that it could be easily understood. What I did not do, and what the statute itself does not and of course cannot do, is opine as to the chances of that being a successful option for those on the registry. That is what you have done, which is a fair rebuttal to my piece, which also opines as to the chances of that being a successful option for registrants. Our opinions are in opposition. Mine is based on my experiences for quite a few years now in watching registered persons be exempted and “carved-out” of almost every proposal that could benefit them. However, I do sincerely hope that I am incorrect and you are correct.

    2. AvatarJacob

      Keep in mind that this law places the burden of rebutting on the registrant.

      It is the registrant who must come up with the funds pay a lawyer (plus an expert witness, probably) to prove a negative to the court, e.g., that the registered sex offender does not pose a danger to their child. Then it is the court that must take the risk of making that determination.

      If any one of these things fails to happen then loss of custody is MANDATORY in divorce.

    3. AvatarA Mistake They Made

      John Paul Reed,

      Someone who was a danger is not necessarily a danger today this is side stepping due process. This law also shifts the burden of proof onto the defendant this is never allowed in any other situation. If you do not believe in due process or the burden of proof being on the accuser then you should not be any where near a position of authority in this country. There are people on the registry that are innocent, and also people who did nothing to a child at all. To allow a umbrella of destruction on this magnitude to punish people is unacceptable.

      Best Regards

      A Mistake They Made

  2. AvatarEd

    If anyone ever needed a reason to move out of florida, this is yet another in a string of dozens of reasons in the past few years. Florida is a cesspool, there’s just no way you can say anything nice about the state. It exemplifies the worst of everything in politics, law, personality. I’m sure there are many great people in florida, but they would do well to leave the state and migrate a bit north or a bit west. In my opinion, sea level rise cannot come fast enough. That’s the only thing that will correct the wrongs done by public officials, law enforcement, and all the other uneducated people who buy into this stuff

    1. AvatarChristian

      Florida has long been a haven for medieval thinking when it comes to not only sex offenses , but what they consider crimes in general. Which is hypocritical, considering so many public officials there have been caught breaking the very same laws enacted.

  3. AvatarMike

    If there is room to error against an SO it will go against the SO. They don’t create laws like this with fairness in mind. These laws are about hate, not safety. It sounds like another presumed guilty until proven innocent law that further punishes SO’s.

  4. AvatarKevin

    Alaska Has a similar law. Just as it also punishes anyone that allows a child to be supervised by a registered offender, unless said adult is the guardian. No mater how long ago the offense was, or if it was even a contact offense…

    What ever happened to Innocent until proven guilty??? Or that people change and are rehabilitated? These laws show how states want to punish an offender for LIFE, and also deny him or her the most basic of rights, to have a family and be a caring parent…

    1. AvatarWC_TN

      Once someone commits a sexually based offense, particularly against a child or teenager, they are presumed by society as irredeemable. Our laws reflect public sentiment. As far as most of society is concerned, those of us with crimes against children don’t have a right to even be breathing.

  5. AvatarPerry P.

    Mr. Reed’s explanation is of course; just another argument for the Insane ‘Validity Logic’ behind such a Law. No wonder they call the State ‘Flo-ri-DUH’! Rightly so as I see it. Whatever so called ‘Reasoning’ he’s trying to sell with regard to this new Corrupt Bondage, will only inflame those very same kids. Because when they grow up and become adults themselves, they’ll remember all this, and when enough of them get into Politics themselves, THEY, will make those making these Laws now, see just how Super Stupid-Crazy they have been and make them go down in History as having made them suffer ALL THE MORE!
    Nuff Said!

  6. AvatarTim in WI

    Florida spends tax dollars on registration agents at a pretty good clip, perhaps Florida would be better off spending those same tax dollars on Building inspectors.

  7. AvatarK

    How long will this law take to make it to the supreme court? Its all about looking good to your constituents who you fear into compliance. Wasted tax dollars in the state and federal level. All its going to take is one abuse case, sexual or not, from the non SO parent to add awareness to the law. Both parents are responsible to ensure a child is safe and unharmed. If one parent was denied that ability because of a state law, it wont look good on state officials. Remember not so long ago where a parents children were put in a foster home and one was killed do to abuse and neglect?

  8. Avatarmut

    wow. this may be more terrible than the fraudulent COA requirement placed on me by the 9th circuit in No 21-15165.

  9. Avatarmut

    if a registrant sufficiently pleads and proves a violation of 18 usc 1589 in a habeas petition but the court denies a COA on the basis that the registrants fundamental rights were not violated, does that ruling impugn the integrity of a prior criminal conviction under 18 usc 1589 for imposing involuntary servitude?

    i think the answer is yes and anyone convicted of that federal crime should now petition for a writ of habeas corpus or move for modification of sentence because, according to the registrants habeas court, their victims fundamental rights were not violated.

  10. AvatarHershel Meadows

    These officials who passed this hate and fearful law are insane. To believe what they believe is proof of their insanity.

    1. AvatarWC_TN

      Was there bipartizan support for this law? If so, neither party can be counted as an ally.

  11. AvatarPhil

    More “rules upon rules” does not change the fact that it is completely inhumane to condemn someone for their entire life & continuously punish anyone based on media hype and a lie.

    I continue to state that NARSOL is not against the registry scheme at all. There is no point in continuing to produce article, after article if we are not pursuing abolishing such a scheme from ever being imposed ever again.

    NARSOL is a scam in my opinion.

    1. What on earth are you talking about? Have you read the Vision and Mission statements on the website? I have not spent the last decade of my life devoted to the work of a “scam”…nor have all the many members, volunteers, and financial supporters who have selflessly given of their time and resources. So where do you get off calling NARSOL a scam? Are you a member? Have you contributed anything to help?

      NARSOL opposes registries. That’s why we exist. But we’re not magicians. This is a long fight and we need people who are committed to it for the long term. What we do NOT need are people who cast aspersions against us on the basis of facts they do not even have in the first place.

    2. AvatarTim in WI

      NARSOL is competing with the powers of United States of America & BIG TECH. David versus Goliath is an understatement in exponential proportions. Referring to the effort being made as a SCAM is hurtful. But then you’re used to choosing that path. I wonder if you’d even bother to post at all if you actually thought that.

      By my own experience this advocacy would benefit from utilizing another tact, namely confronting the issues in the context of an state FTR – failure to provide information case, rather than filing suits at the federal level, would prove more useful albeit more dangerous for the registrant in terms of incarceration.

    3. AvatarH n H

      I certainly can understand your thoughts on this matter. I have serious doubts sometimes about NARSOL’s true interest in the registry. Not because I don’t think they are doing anything, but rather that they go about it in a manner which points out all the harm but is incapable of any real impact towards the future dismantling of the registry. There are loads of articles on here pointing out the blatant wrong and harm of these laws, however I don’t know what impact NARSOL has had in curbing any of these policies. It’s almost as though this site is an obscure objection to the registry, yet without meaningful results. I may be wrong, but the registry is beyond the US at this point and several nations are adopting similar laws in their countries. I don’t hear much about this on NARSOL. Neither do I hear about the address to the UN about these laws in the United States. I’ve mentioned this before from the website and every mention of it is deleted. I don’t understand this to save my life as it directly deals with the registry yet Noone here wants it to even be made known. That seems extremely counter productive to say the least in bringing the real fight against the registry to more people. It’s a very odd, peculiar and strange fact that this site refuses to cover this. I for one believe NARSOL has potential though, so stick it out I will.

      Be this as it may, I’ll still support NARSOL by my purchases online and hope others will do the same.

    4. What address to the UN are you referencing? We are not aware of any address to the UN explicitly addressing sexual offense registration laws in the states of the United States. Can you help us out with that? If there are things that we, at NARSOL, are not aware of, we rely upon people (such as yourself) to make us aware. Again, we are not magicians here. We have no special powers of perception or knowledge. We are creating a space for people to come together and share their collective knowledge. So, when you say that “it’s almost as though this site is an obscure objection to the registry” you are merely supporting Phil’s terribly offensive assault that NARSOL is a scam. This is incorrigible to me. It’s a baseless and fact-less assault on our organizational character. I take it as personally offensive, as well. It’s the sort of “talk” that just makes those of us who are so heavily invested in this cause to give up and say “Whatever! These people don’t seem to care one way or the other who is trying to fight for them. All they do is complain about their own personal dilemmas with the registry. They don’t give a damn about anyone else but themselves.”

  12. Avatarq

    Politicians can’t be bothered to dip even a single toe into the toxic swamp they’ve allowed to exist.

    If only they just would’ve stuck to the Constitution instead of infecting us with progressive agendas. At least the Constitution served as a protection for the average person…now we’ve become overrun with “laws” to the point where we need “lawyers”.

    Either that or wear a mask at this point…hm.

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