2023 Florida Statutes< Back to Statute Search
Title V JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 39 PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO CHILDREN
SECTION 0139Visitation or other contact; restrictions.
39.0139 Visitation or other contact; restrictions.—
(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Keeping Children Safe Act.”
(2) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
(a) The Legislature finds that:
1. For some children who are abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent or other caregiver, abuse may include sexual abuse.
2. These same children are at risk of suffering from further harm during visitation or other contact.
3. Visitation or other contact with the child may be used to influence the child’s testimony.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to protect children and reduce the risk of further harm to children who have been sexually abused or exploited by a parent or other caregiver by placing additional requirements on judicial determinations related to contact between a parent or caregiver who meets the criteria under paragraph (3)(a) and a child victim in any proceeding pursuant to this chapter.
(3) PRESUMPTION OF DETRIMENT.—
(a) A rebuttable presumption of detriment to a child is created when:
1. A court of competent jurisdiction has found probable cause exists that a parent or caregiver has sexually abused a child as defined in s. 39.01;
2. A parent or caregiver has been found guilty of, regardless of adjudication, or has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, charges under the following statutes or substantially similar statutes of other jurisdictions:
a. Section 787.04, relating to removing minors from the state or concealing minors contrary to court order;
b. Section 794.011, relating to sexual battery;
c. Section 798.02, relating to lewd and lascivious behavior;
d. Chapter 800, relating to lewdness and indecent exposure;
e. Section 826.04, relating to incest; or
f. Chapter 827, relating to the abuse of children; or
3. A court of competent jurisdiction has determined a parent or caregiver to be a sexual predator as defined in s. 775.21 or a parent or caregiver has received a substantially similar designation under laws of another jurisdiction.
(b) For purposes of this subsection, “substantially similar” has the same meaning as in s. 39.806(1)(d)2.
(c) A person who meets any of the criteria set forth in paragraph (a) may not visit or have contact with a child without a hearing and order by the court.
(4) HEARINGS.—A person who meets any of the criteria set forth in paragraph (3)(a) who seeks to begin or resume contact with the child victim shall have the right to an evidentiary hearing to determine whether contact is appropriate.
(a) Prior to the hearing, the court shall appoint an attorney ad litem or a guardian ad litem for the child if one has not already been appointed. Any attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem appointed shall have special training in the dynamics of child sexual abuse.
(b) At the hearing, the court may receive and rely upon any relevant and material evidence submitted to the extent of its probative value, including written and oral reports or recommendations from the Child Protection Team, the child’s therapist, the child’s guardian ad litem, or the child’s attorney ad litem, even if these reports, recommendations, and evidence may not be admissible under the rules of evidence.
(c) If the court finds the person proves by clear and convincing evidence that the safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health of the child is not endangered by such visitation or other contact, the presumption in subsection (3) is rebutted and the court may allow visitation or other contact. The court shall enter a written order setting forth findings of fact and specifying any conditions it finds necessary to protect the child.
(d) If the court finds the person did not rebut the presumption established in subsection (3), the court shall enter a written order setting forth findings of fact and prohibiting or restricting visitation or other contact with the child.
(5) CONDITIONS.—Any visitation or other contact ordered under paragraph (4)(d) shall be:
(a) Supervised by a person who has previously received special training in the dynamics of child sexual abuse; or
(b) Conducted in a supervised visitation program, provided that the program has an agreement with the court and a current affidavit of compliance on file with the chief judge of the circuit in which the program is located affirming that the program has agreed to comply with the minimum standards contained in the administrative order issued by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on November 17, 1999, and provided the program has a written agreement with the court and with the department as described in s. 753.05 containing policies and guidelines specifically related to referrals involving child sexual abuse.
(6) ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS.—
(a) Once a rebuttable presumption of detriment has arisen under subsection (3) or if visitation is ordered under subsection (4) and a party or participant, based on communication with the child or other firsthand knowledge, informs the court that a person is attempting to influence the testimony of the child, the court shall hold a hearing within 7 business days to determine whether it is in the best interests of the child to prohibit or restrict visitation or other contact with the person who is alleged to have influenced the testimony of the child.
(b) If a child is in therapy as a result of any finding or conviction contained in paragraph (3)(a) and the child’s therapist reports that the visitation or other contact is impeding the child’s therapeutic progress, the court shall convene a hearing within 7 business days to review the terms, conditions, or appropriateness of continued visitation or other contact.
History.—s. 1, ch. 2007-109; s. 1, ch. 2011-209; s. 5, ch. 2013-15; s. 37, ch. 2016-24; s. 13, ch. 2019-3.