Child Custody & Visitation – Retrospective Application of Child Custody Statute in Florida

A statute is effective on the date that it takes effect, unless it indicates that it is retrospective. “‘A statute is not operative as law until the date at which it takes effect [,] and it operates retrospectively unless the intent that it operate retrospectively is clearly expressed.” Id. at 947 (quoting Imperial Point Colonnades Condo., Inc. v. Freedom Props. Int’l, Inc., 349 So. 2d 1194, 1195 (Fla.4th DCA 1977). This is particularly true because there are instances where retrospective operation of the law would act to impair or destroy existing rights. Id. (citing Horn v. Fla. Dep’t of Revenue ex rel. Abel, 752 So. 2d 687, 688 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000). The Fourth District concluded that the application of the statute “clearly impaired the former wife’s existing rights over her children.” Id. We reach the same conclusion. Here, the Mother’s rights were set forth in a contract that utilized then-existing statutory law. The retrospective application of the new statute would impair those rights. We agree, too, with the Fourth District’s conclusion that the legisla¬ture did not intend the retroactive application to child custody judgments which became final before the effective date of the legislation.” Bachman v. McLinn