Search Site

“Greyson’s Law” Requires Florida Courts to Consider Threats of Violence in Custody and Visitation Decisions

Family court judges face difficult decisions regarding parenting plans and time-sharing when a parent has allegedly engaged in threatening behavior against their former partner. Florida law calls for minor children to have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents. In some cases, courts have discounted claims of intimidation during disputes over time-sharing. Determining whether such a claim has merit or is a false accusation created to gain an advantage in the proceeding is not an exact science. A ruling can depend on information observed by the judge.

Previously, Florida judges deciding on time-sharing terms were not required to consider a parent’s history of threatening speech or conduct toward their former partner. But a new statute known as “Greyson’s Law,” which went into effect July 1, creates a stricter framework for judges making decisions on temporary or permanent parenting arrangements. Judges must now consider whether a child is in imminent danger of harm.

The law was named after Greyson Kessler, a four-year-old Broward County boy who died at the hands of his father, John Stacey, in a murder-suicide. Prior to Greyson’s death, his mother, Ali Kessler, sought an injunction denying Stacey’s parenting time due to his disturbing behavior, stalking and threats of violence. However, because Stacey had not been convicted of a crime relating to domestic violence and there was no specific threat to Greyson, the judge allowed Stacey to maintain time-sharing rights. Following the tragedy, Ms. Kessler advocated for changes in the law to shift the balance between honoring parental rights and protecting children’s safety in child custody cases where a parent’s behavior has raised credible red flags.

Greyson’s Law compels judges to consider evidence of domestic violence even if the parent was never convicted of a crime. Courts must also examine whether a parent has reasonable cause to believe that they or their child ever have been in imminent danger of abuse or abandonment from their co-parent.

Other states have likewise recognized the danger that exists even when a parent has exhibited disturbing statements or actions, even if they are not specifically aimed at their son or daughter. For example, “Kyra’s Law” in New York was recently passed following a tragic death similar to Greyson’s. Though these laws may be able to save young lives, it is important to hire an effective family attorney who can gather the evidence necessary to present a persuasive argument as to why the parental rights of someone with dangerous tendencies should be curtailed.

The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz in Miami has decades of experience advocating for Florida clients in highly charged disputes over parenting plans and time-sharing. Please call 305-670-8656 or contact us online anytime to schedule a consultation.

Lawrence  S.  Katz Attorney Photo
Lawrence S. Katz

For many years, Lawrence S. Katz has helped clients in Florida, throughout the United States and abroad. He has earned an excellent worldwide reputation for providing knowledgeable, quality representation in family law matters.

Client Reviews
  • "Attorney Katz has a keen sense for understanding the overall situation and immediately formulating an action plan. He is direct, succinct and effective. I highly recommend Attorney Katz for his experience, integrity and results!" - Vivian

  • "Mr. Katz is the best divorce lawyer in the Miami area. Very knowledgeable and experienced. We had a difficult case and he delivered impressive result. His assistant Fanny it is a great asset to that office as well." - Georgette

  • "My case was a complex one and Mr. Katz provided me with a course of action that led to a favorable outcome. He is clearly knowledgeable and experienced but he is also very prompt. He is always available to answer questions via email, Skype or phone. As an overseas client this was very important to me. I would definitely recommend Mr. Katz especially for international divorce and custody cases." - Anonymous

  • "I am extremely grateful to have had Larry represent me. In International Family Law I would say he has few, if any, equals." - Anonymous

  • "This divorce lawyer is excellent, charismatic, professional, and cares about the customer. I gave a case to him that it was impossible to solve, and he did solved the problem like it was very simple. He was always in touch and answering all my questions, either by phone or by email." - Manjit

Contact us

Quick Contact Form