This week, Senator Lori Berman (D-Boca Raton) and Representative Hillary Cassel (D-Dania Beach) filed SB 130/HB 97.
This bill is in response to the tragic death of 4-year-old Greyson Kessler, who was the victim of a murder-suicide involving his father in May 2021. Days prior to the murder, Greyson’s mother, Ali Kessler, filed an emergency petition with Broward Family Court outlining her imminent fears for the safety of her child. In the time leading up to the shooting, Greyson’s father sent multiple disturbing and threatening communications to Ms. Kessler, but Florida law has no formal mechanism that allows for threats directed at a parent to create a nexus with a child. Under this measure, a court must consider whether a parent or child(ren) is in imminent danger or has been the victim of domestic violence, abuse, abandonment or neglect. These factors would also be considered when a court reviews shared parental responsibility and whether any and all of these aspects are detrimental to the child.
Senator Berman stated, “Greyson’s life was cut way too short for reasons that were preventable. Greyson and Ali were failed by so many layers that should have protected them. It is imperative that we safeguard all the other ‘Greysons’ in our state. I am proud that we worked closely with the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar to ensure a final product that we can come together on in order to shelter our children in dangerous situations. I look forward to this bill’s passage in honor of Greyson.”
Representative Cassel said, “Threats to a child’s safety cannot be ignored. Greyson was denied his future because a law like this didn’t exist to protect him; and we must make sure that no other child meets the same fate. This unspeakable horror is a learning moment for our state, and I am proud to work alongside Senator Berman to make Florida a safer place for all of our children.”
Greyson’s mother, Ali Kessler, stated, “Greyson’s death can’t be for nothing. There has to be a reason why a happy and healthy 4-year-old boy was taken from this world, and maybe it was for this greater cause. If a bill like Greyson’s Law existed when I begged the court and police for help, I fully believe my sweet boy would still be alive. I am happy other children and families may have a fighting chance.”
The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar applauds Senator Berman for her tireless effort and hard work on Greyson’s Law, and thanks Representative Cassel for sponsoring this legislation in the Florida House,” said Philip S. Wartenberg, Magistrate of the 13th Circuit and Chair of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. “We believe, in its current form, this proposed legislation will assist in providing for better protection and safety for Florida’s families and children.”
Originally published at https://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/4383