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.
   11  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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., or the
   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.