New law provides safe haven for child custody exchange

Reporter: Jolena Esperto Writer: Nicholas Karsen
Published: Updated:

A new law passed now requires every Florida sheriff to provide a safe, neutral area for ex’s to meet and exchange custody of their children.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has designated its Six Mile Cypress headquarters area for parents to meet. LCSO has created purple signage to aid parents in locating the safe haven.

The safe haven is expected to reduce the likelihood of child exchanges from going awry, as there have been instances where children have been injured or killed during the exchange process.

A recent example is on March 20, when a Cape Coral father arrived at his former wife’s home to pick up their children.

According to LCSO detectives, the mother went inside her home because she had forgotten something. When she exited the house, the father then shot and killed her.

The father then took his children into his black SUV, attempting to drive away.

Police swarmed the scene, chasing after the father, as the vehicle drove into a nearby canal, plunging into the water.

The father had shot himself moments before the vehicle had entered the water.

First responders were able to rescue the children.

This sad example provoked a call to action; however, expects belive that this new law is nothing more than a bandage.

) “If they are determined to commit domestic violence, homicide, they’re going to do that,” said Linda Oberhaus, CEO of the Shelter for Abused Women & Children. “In many cases, exchanges that have taken place, even at local law enforcement agencies, have resulted in domestic violence homicides.”

The new law will allow judges to order parents to use the safe haven location if they believe the child is at risk during the exchange.

In addition to the purple signage, each safe haven location must have purple lighting and be under continuous video surveillance watch.

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