Parental Time Sharing in Florida
Florida has made many changes to its child custody and visitation laws in recent years. One of the biggest changes was to add the concept of "time-sharing" to child custody.
In a "time-sharing" arrangement, neither parent has "primary" or "secondary" custody of a child – so these labels no longer affect child custody or support arrangements. Rather, the two parents split their time with the child so that each one spends time with the child and shares in the duties of parenting.
Setting up a time-sharing arrangement requires parents to consider several factors. The needs of the child are paramount, but it’s also important to consider the parents’ schedules, abilities to parent, and willingness to share in the child’s life. If you’re working on a time-sharing or other custody arrangement, the Jacksonville child time-sharing attorneys at Farah & Farah can inform you of your rights and the best options through a free consultation by calling (904) 263-4610 today.
What Goes into a Time-Sharing Plan?
Every time-sharing plan is slightly different, because every plan is tailored to the needs of the parents and child who use it. However, Florida law requires that a time-sharing plan cover several basic points before a court may approve it. Factors that must be included in a time-sharing plan in Florida include:
- A description of how each parent will be responsible for the daily tasks involved in raising the child. Parents can include as much or as little detail as necessary to make these responsibilities clear for everyone.
- A schedule showing when and how long the child will be with each parent.
- A designation of the parent responsible for the child’s health care, school activities, religious upbringing, and other activities. A time-share plan can state that both parents will work together on these issues, or it can specify one parent to make the "final call" on these issues.
- A description of the methods and technologies each parent will use to communicate with the child. For instance, parents might decide that when the child is staying with one parent, he or she will call the other parent at certain times to chat. Parents who live some distance away from a child might use e-mail or Skype to communicate with their child.
What Do Florida Courts Consider When Approving Time-Sharing Plans?
Just like a time-sharing plan itself has many factors, so does a court’s decision to approve a time-sharing plan. In Florida, time-sharing plan decisions – like most decisions related to children – are based on the court’s evaluation of what arrangement is in "the best interests of the child."
Many factors influence what the "best interests of the child" are in any case. For instance, courts often consider factors like:
- the abilities and willingness of each parent to provide for the child’s basic needs and raise the child,
- the ability and willingness of the parents to cooperate in raising the child,
- the child’s specific mental and physical health needs,
- where the child currently lives and whether future living arrangements will be stable and predictable for the child,
- the risk of domestic violence or other harm coming to the child, and
- the child’s preferences, when the child is old enough to state one, and the reasons the child gives for the preference.
Should I Seek Help in Creating a Time-Sharing Plan?
Many Florida parents cooperate well enough to create their own workable time-sharing plans. However, if your divorce is contentious or you are having difficulty creating a time-sharing plan, it’s wise to seek the help of an experienced family law attorney. At Farah & Farah, our Jacksonville family law attorneys can help you work out a plan that helps both parents focus on raising a healthy, happy child. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.