Safe Exchange of Minor Children
The Florida House of Representatives is moving forward with a bill intended to make child timesharing exchanges safer. The bill is named the “Cassie Carli Law.” Cassie Carlie was a mother who vanished in 2022 following a scheduled timesharing exchange of her preschool-aged daughter at a restaurant parking lot near her home. She was found dead six days later. Police quickly arrested her ex-boyfriend and the child’s father, who faces charges in the case.
In response to the tragic passing of Cassie Carli, the Florida Legislature proposed House Bill 385. The bill requires the sheriff in each county to designate at least one parking lot at the sheriff’s office or substation as a neutral safe exchange location. The designated parking lot and respective sheriff’s office must be identified with a purple light or a sign on the premises to clearly designate the neutral safe exchange location, be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, provide adequate lighting, and provide continuous video surveillance.
House Bill 385 will amend section 61.13, Florida Statutes to allow courts to require timesharing exchanges to be conducted at a safe exchange location. Specifically, the bill amends section 61.13, Florida Statutes, to provide that a parenting plan must designate authorized locations for the exchange of the child, if proven necessary. Under the bill, the exchange may be required to be conducted at a neutral safe exchange location if there is: (i) competent substantial evidence that there is a risk or an imminent threat of harm to one of the parents or the child during the exchange; (ii) the court finds such a requirement necessary to ensure the safety of a parent of the child; and (iii) such a requirement is in the best interest of the child.
Additionally, the bill creates section. 61.455, Florida Statutes, authorizing the court in any type of proceeding where a parenting plan and timesharing is entered or modified to order the exchange occur at a neutral safe exchange location, if there is competent substantial evidence that there is a risk or an imminent threat of harm to one parent or the child during the actual exchange, and such requirement is in the best interest of the child.
Last, the bill will also amend section 741.30, Florida Statutes, to change the standard form of the petition for protection against domestic violence to allow the petitioner to request that the court require timesharing exchanges to be conducted at a safe exchange location, and to authorize or require the court to order the use of a neutral exchange location in an ex parte order for a temporary injunction under certain circumstances. Further, the bill authorizes the court to require the exchange to take place in a neutral safe exchange location in a final injunction following proper notice and a hearing.
The passing and implementation of the Cassie Carli Law would be in the best interest of Florida’s children, when the proven need exists.