Lawmakers ready final vote for ‘Greyson’s Law’ to protect children from parental harm
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‘Gaps’ in Florida’s child custody laws kept courts from acting to save the bill's 4-year-old namesake until it was too late.

A measure that would require courts to consider threats against ex-partners or spouses when determining child visitation and custody policies is one vote from heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.

Judging from the applause the bill received on the House floor Tuesday, it’s all but certain to pass.

The bill (SB 130), titled “Greyson’s Law,” is named for Greyson Kessler, a 4-year-old boy from Broward County killed by his father in a 2021 murder-suicide.

Greyson’s mother, Ali Kessler, sought a restraining order for domestic violence against the man, who stalked her using a tracking device and once told her by text that she deserved “to have (her) head separated from her body.”

She repeatedly fought for exclusive custody of her son, knowing his life was in danger, but Florida’s current custody rules and definitions of domestic violence led courts to act too slowly, denying her request until it was too late.

“Greyson’s father was smart, you see, because his escalating threats of intimidation and danger were directed at Ali and not Greyson,” said Hollywood Democratic Rep. Hillary Cassel, who sponsored a House version (HB 97) of the measure.

“Due to gaps in our current law, Ali’s request to remove Greyson was denied and, sadly, Ali’s worst fear was realized.”

Greyson’s law provides several additional factors for courts to consider when determining custody or time sharing, including evidence — or reasonable belief by a parent that they or their child is in imminent danger — of domestic violence, sexual violence, neglect, abuse or abandonment.

While Florida Statutes already provide that a person can seek an injunction for domestic violence if they have been a victim or have reasonable belief they will be, SB 130 will expand those existing factors to also include consideration of when someone is engaging in a pattern of abusive, threatening and intimidating behavior.

“Greyson’s law extends beyond acts of abuse, because not all abuse is physical,” Cassel said. “By placing these factors in statute, we will provide better guidance for our courts when deciding these often difficult and sometimes dangerous situations, which in turn should help to further protect Florida’s families, especially our children, and help prevent other senseless tragedies like Greyson’s in the future.”

“Greyson’s Law” was first filed as a more expansive bill in November 2021 by former Miami Beach Democratic Rep. Mike Grieco. Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman, who sponsored last year’s Senate version, carried the measure this Session as well. It cleared the Senate with unanimous support March 22.

Kessler, whom Cassel recognized from the House floor Tuesday to a chamber-wide round of applause, told Florida Politics she’s hopeful the bill will clear its final hurdle.

“The need is there,” she said. “People talk to me daily about their nightmare, so I know it will definitely be helpful, and knowing Greyson’s name will live on to help other children have a fighting chance — at least I can say it was for something.

“It’s definitely hard. I just wish it existed when I needed the help.”

SB 130 is scheduled for a third and final reading Wednesday afternoon.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Howard Stern

    April 18, 2023 at 6:10 pm

    Want custody? Provoke a smack. Banda bing bada boom. You can be as bad as you want to and still get custody if you get a smack.😆

  • Lex

    April 19, 2023 at 8:54 am

    This scares the c*&^ out of me. People lie all the time in divorces. I don’t want children to die, but I also don’t want one parent to lie about the other and that other parent lose years with their child on the basis of a lie. Divorces destroy families and children. We hand divorces out like they are French fries. It is really hard to tell when someone is lying, and this law will take children away from their parents. A lot of men will probably never see their children because of this law, and we know how bad it is when children are raised without their fathers.

Comments are closed.


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