Florida Senate - 2020 SB 604 By Senator Bean 4-00839-20 2020604__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the Servicemembers Civil Relief 3 Act; amending s. 39.01, F.S.; revising the definition 4 of “abandoned” or “abandonment”; amending s. 39.0137, 5 F.S.; providing that certain state laws relating to 6 children do not supersede the Servicemembers Civil 7 Relief Act; requiring the Department of Children and 8 Families to ensure that the act is observed in certain 9 cases; providing an effective date. 10 11 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 12 13 Section 1. Subsection (1) of section 39.01, Florida 14 Statutes, is amended to read: 15 39.01 Definitions.—When used in this chapter, unless the 16 context otherwise requires: 17 (1) “Abandoned” or “abandonment” means a situation in which 18 the parent or legal custodian of a child or, in the absence of a 19 parent or legal custodian, the caregiver, while being able, has 20 made no significant contribution to the child’s care and 21 maintenance or has failed to establish or maintain a substantial 22 and positive relationship with the child, or both. For purposes 23 of this subsection, “establish or maintain a substantial and 24 positive relationship” includes, but is not limited to, frequent 25 and regular contact with the child through frequent and regular 26 visitation or frequent and regular communication to or with the 27 child, and the exercise of parental rights and responsibilities. 28 Marginal efforts and incidental or token visits or 29 communications are not sufficient to establish or maintain a 30 substantial and positive relationship with a child. A man’s 31 acknowledgment of paternity of the child does not limit the 32 period of time considered in determining whether the child was 33 abandoned. The term does not include a surrendered newborn 34 infant as described in s. 383.50, a “child in need of services” 35 as defined in chapter 984, or a “family in need of services” as 36 defined in chapter 984. The absence of a parent, legal 37 custodian, or caregiver responsible for a child’s welfare who is 38 a servicemember by reason of deployment or anticipated 39 deployment, as defined in 50 U.S.C. s. 3938(e), may not be 40 considered or used as a factor in determining abandonment. The 41 incarceration, repeated incarceration, or extended incarceration 42 of a parent, legal custodian, or caregiver responsible for a 43 child’s welfare may support a finding of abandonment. 44 Section 2. Subsection (1) of section 39.0137, Florida 45 Statutes, is amended, and a new subsection (3) is added to that 46 section to read: 47 39.0137 Federal law; rulemaking authority.— 48 (1) This chapter does not supersede the requirements of the 49 Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. ss. 1901 et seq.,
orthe 50 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, Pub. L. No. 103-382, as 51 amended, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. ss. 3901 52 et seq., or the implementing regulations for such acts. 53 (3) The department shall ensure that the Servicemembers 54 Civil Relief Act is observed in cases where a parent, by virtue 55 of his or her service, is unable to take custody of his or her 56 child or appear before the court in person. 57 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.