Gov. DeSantis signs ‘safe exchange’ child custody bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Wednesday meant to improve safety for children and parents during custody exchanges.


HB 385, titled “Safe Exchange of Minor Children,” requires parents who share custody of their children to establish a court-approved parenting plan that outlines how they’ll share the daily responsibilities of raising the child.

The plan must also include time-sharing schedule arrangements for each parent and designate which one is responsible for matters like the child’s healthcare, education, and other activities.

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In situations where a court finds there’s a “risk or an imminent threat of harm” to either the parents or the child, they may require them to exchange the child at a “neutral, safe exchange” location.

The new law will also require Florida sheriffs to designate at least one parking lot at the sheriff’s office or a substation to serve as a neutral, safe exchange location.

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Safe exchange parking lots are required to have a purple light or a sign clearly identifying it as such. They must also be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, provide adequate lighting, have an external video surveillance system that records continuously, and have at least one camera that can record the area around the purple light or sign.

Also referred to as the “Cassie Carli” law, HB 385 was named for a Florida mother who disappeared in 2022 after meeting with the father of her child for a timeshare exchange and was later found buried in a shallow grave in Alabama.

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35-year-old Marcus Spanevelo was later indicted on a charge of kidnapping, resulting in Carli’s death.

HB 385 passed through the Florida Senate and House nearly unanimously and was signed by Gov. DeSantis Wednesday.

The new law goes into effect on July 1.

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