New Florida law establishes safe space in sheriff’s office parking lots for child custody exchanges

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A new law creating designated areas at sheriff’s offices for separated parents with split custody to safely exchange children is going into effect in Florida on Monday.

Purple signs at sheriff’s offices across the Sunshine State will designate child exchange zones where parents can drop off their children without fear of harm to themselves or their children. The color purple represents domestic violence awareness.

The designated parking lot, which will be accessible at all times of the day, will have a purple light or sign identifying the area for parents to hand off their children in accordance with their custody plan while deputies watch on camera.

H.B. 385, titled Safe Exchange of Minor Children, requires adequate lighting and video surveillance that records continuously for 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

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At least one camera must be pointed at the parking lot and be able to record the area in the vicinity of the purple light or sign during both day and night, capture pictures that clearly and accurately display the time and date, and retain video surveillance recordings or pictures for at least 45 days.

The law was named for Florida mother Cassie Carli, who vanished in 2022 after meeting her child’s father in a restaurant parking lot during a custody exchange. Her body was discovered buried in Alabama weeks later. 

The child’s father, 35-year-old Marcus Spanevelo, was indicted in connection with her death.

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The legislation also requires parents who share custody of their children to establish a parenting plan approved by a court that details how they will share the daily responsibilities of raising the child.

The plan must include time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time the child shares with each parent. It will also designate which parent is responsible for the child’s health care, education and other activities.

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H.B. 385 was signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.