Child Time Sharing & Custody
A divorce is something that many married couples dread, but many do face at some point. If children are involved, the choices surrounding divorce become much more difficult. Child custody and visitation rights are often choices which must be made. In Florida, the rules for this are very different from many other states.
Florida has all but eliminated the term “custody.” The correct term that you will want to use is “time sharing.” Time sharing is a term used to describe the concept where the children get to spend a certain amount of time with each parent. Usually, it is left up to the parents to determine this schedule. If the parents are unable to agree upon a schedule, the court will decide for them.
Florida statute 61.13 states that the time sharing schedule must be determined according to the best interests of the child. The parent that ends up with the majority of the parenting time is termed the “majority parent.”
If you are in a contested custody case, it is always good to familiarize yourself with the statutory factors a judge will consider and compare them to your own personal situation.
Florida statute 61.13(3) defines all of the factors a judge must consider.
Health and Safety
Florida does have a policy of shared parental responsibility. That said, that will not apply if the court finds such shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Evidence of domestic or sexual violence, neglect, child abandonment or abuse can affect custodial rights. Another factor is the mental and physical health of the parents and whether there is evidence of substance abuse in a parent’s home.
Emotional and Developmental Needs
A judge will consider the extent a parent has demonstrated both the ability and desire to be involved in a child’s life. In addition, the court will consider the ability to provide the child with a consistent daily schedule and discipline. Courts tend to favor arrangements that minimize disruption to the child’s schedule.
Co-Parenting and Communication Skills
Another important factor that will be considered will be the ability of each parent to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. Each parent’s ability to communicate with the other parent regarding the child’s activities or other issues will be taken into consideration. The parents are expected to shield the child from the stress of the divorce and refrain from making disparaging remarks about the other parent.
Florida law requires that parents who share time with a minor child have a written parenting plan. In order for the court to approve the parenting plan, some things are absolutely necessary.
1). a plan for sharing the responsibility of daily parenting tasks
the child’s time-sharing schedule
2). a designated address for school registration and other activities
the specific methods and technology through which the parents will communicate with one another
3). a designation of which parent will be responsible for health care and school-related matters
The decision on how to divide time between two parents can be a difficult thing, especially in contested cases. By familiarizing yourself with Florida time-sharing statutes and speaking with an experienced family law attorney like Mr. Frances, you can give yourself a head start in determining what plan will work best for you.