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Florida Enacts Law for Designated Child Custody Exchange Locations

The Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee has approved legislation, known as HB 538 or “Cassie’s Law,” which mandates the establishment of safe exchange locations for child custody transitions. The bipartisan bill aims to enhance the safety of child custody exchanges following the tragic case of Cassie Carli, a mother who disappeared and was later found dead after a custody exchange in 2022.

Secure Space for Exchanges

The new law requires each county’s sheriff’s department to designate a secure space for these exchanges, potentially in the parking lots of sheriff’s stations or substations. These locations must be well-lit, clearly marked, and preferably equipped with purple lights in honor of Cassie Carli. Furthermore, the designated areas must have 24/7 video monitoring, and the recorded footage must be retained for at least 45 days.

Is a Safe Exchange Location Necessary?

The legislation empowers courts to determine if a safe exchange location is necessary due to an imminent threat of harm. It also grants courts the flexibility to designate additional safe exchange locations, ensuring that such arrangements are available as needed. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar commended the passage of the bill and emphasized its positive impact on the well-being of children and families.

The proactive approach of the Florida Legislature in advancing public policy prioritizing the safety of children and families was acknowledged, with Cassie’s Law seen as a crucial step towards preventing future tragedies in child custody exchanges.

In North Carolina, high-conflict cases can sometimes have similar provisions built into the custody order if the Judge sees that exchanges have been or will be opportunities for conflict. This includes scheduling exchanges at a sheriff’s office. If you have a high-conflict case where exchanges have been troublesome, please speak to your attorney about how to address that issue.