Senate passes ‘Cassie Carlils Law’ spurred by woman’s death

Florida State Capitol Building
With a 37-1 vote Wednesday, Senate lawmakers approved a committee substitute for SB 580.

Senators have approved new legislation aiming to protect parents during custody exchanges. But the sponsor of a 2023 law guarding against domestic violence voted against the bill.

The newly passed legislation is named after Cassie Carli, a Florida woman who died after she agreed to a last-minute custody exchange for her 4-year-old daughter in a restaurant parking lot with her ex-boyfriend. Carli’s body was found buried in a shallow grave the next state over, and her ex has been indicted on kidnapping and abuse of a corpse charges.

With a 37-1 vote, Senate lawmakers approved a committee substitute for SB 580 that mandates every county provide a location for parents to safely exchange custody of their children. 

“Senate Bill 580 seeks to help prevent tragedies like these by giving courts safer locations to order the safe exchange of minor children,” said its sponsor, Clay Yarborough, a Republican from Jacksonville.

“For high-conflict situations, the Sheriff in each county will establish a location with a purple light location in a parking lot that’s accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, have adequate lighting and also 24-hour video surveillance.”

The House’s version (HB 385) is identical.

Under the bill, a parent seeking a domestic violence injunction against the other parent can request to use the safe exchange location. The courts can also order families to use the special locations for child swaps as part of a parenting plan.

The lone “no” vote Wednesday from Sen. Lori Berman, who sponsored last year’s Greyson’s Law, came as she expressed concerns that the bill doesn’t go enough to protect people in danger. 

“I’m really torn about this because I know that this was being done as a response to a very specific situation where somebody did transfer their child and unfortunately lost their life. And I know that it’s absolutely done with the best of intentions,” the Boca Raton Democrat said.

“I am just concerned about how the court will interpret this. I do feel like if there is an imminent threat of harm, there should not be an exchange, or at the very minimum, it should be a supervised exchange. Even that I’m not even very comfortable with.”

Yarborough defended his bill, saying the courts had discretion. His bill does not compromise “Greyson’s Law,” legislation passed last year that addresses child visitation and custody policies, he said.

“I’m glad we can work to push this across the line today,” he said just before Senators voted in favor of the legislation.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Julia

    February 21, 2024 at 5:46 pm

  • Julia

    February 21, 2024 at 5:48 pm

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  • Dont Say FLA

    February 22, 2024 at 7:30 am

    There they go again, FLgOP’s self-proclaimed Christian Nationalists making it easier to disobey your man and be divorced from him.

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Comments are closed.


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