Today is an anniversary of note: Despite opposition against including parents in custody disputes under a law mandating mental health evaluations--even for those who have never exhibited mental health problems-- HB 439 Mental Health Services in the Criminal Justice System passed into Florida law on 3/25/2016 (open link and read lines 115-229).
I post this again today--four years later--because it still adversely effects children and protective mothers who attend and support our churches.
Our family courts are horrors when one of the parents contesting custody is an abuser. And statistics show that abusive fathers are more likely to sue for custody than loving, mentally healthy, fathers. Statistics also show that when an abusive father sues for custody, he stands an 80% chance of a Family Court ruling in his favor.
It is the belief of many, that abusive parents are the ones who primarily benefit from custody related mental health provisions included in this law.
I am disappointed that pleas to stop HB 439 fell on deaf ears. That means it is more important than ever for churches to reach out in support of members who are protective parents battling a broken family court system (the vast majority of these are single mothers). Children are the main victims in this travesty. They often suffer unspeakably.
Do what you can to help these families. And be aware that it might take more than just prayer. It may require action. Put your money where your mouth is. I know of some churches that assist protective mothers with attorney's fees...Now, that's love.
My 2016 letter to Governor (emailed to him as soon as I learned of this on March 15, 2016)
Dear Governor Scott,
I am all for getting mental health services to those who need them rather than overburdening the criminal justice system, but for heaven's sake why has the issue of child custody between two parents who are not criminals been sandwiched into House Bill 439 (Senate Bill 604), Mental Health Services in the Criminal Justice System? It does not belong there! This bill will force people who have never committed a crime nor given any indication of having mental health problems into the mental health system. It will force them into "certain mental health programs" just because they are involved in a child custody dispute! That is so unfair to families. Governor Scott, please do not sign this Bill into law until the part about parents and custody disputes is removed.