Time-Sharing in Florida
The concept of time-sharing has leveled the playing field for parental responsibility. It was designed to minimize the confusion surrounding the best interest of minor children during and after divorce proceedings. By replacing the custody model with time-sharing, Florida, in essence, removed mothers as the preferred caregiver for younger children. The time spent with each parent no longer happens based on gender. It is apportioned by the courts in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
The time-sharing schedule set by the court is mandated by Florida Statute 61.13 (3). How it is decided is based on the consideration of various factors including the capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and always act in the best interest of the child. The moral fitness, mental and physical health of each parent is also of primary importance and whether they have demonstrated the ability to facilitate a close and enduring relationship with the child. The court reviews the child’s home, school and community record and whether the parents can personally provide care on a regular basis rather than delegate this responsibility to a third party.
Parents must also demonstrate their ability to maintain a drug-free environment and protect the child from exposure to substance abuse activities. They should have the capability and willingness to stay informed about the relevant circumstances relating to the child, such as daily activities, their friends, teachers, and medical providers.
Several other factors are also considered such as:
- The projected division of parental responsibilities after litigation.
- Geographic viability for the implementation of the time-sharing plan.
- How long the child has lived in a stable environment and the desirability of each parent for its continuity.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the child has sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- Any evidence of domestic violence, child abandonment, neglect, sexual and physical abuse or whether either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court.
- Are the parents able and willing to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities?
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the litigation process began and during the pending litigation. This also includes the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
To achieve the goal of the court which is always in the best interest of the child, the court requires that each parent demonstrate the ability to provide a consistent routine and the oversight to facilitate the completion of homework, provision of proper meals, and bedtime activities. Parents are also required to keep each other informed about pertinent issues and adopt a unified front on major issues when dealing with the child. Each parent must demonstrate the capacity and disposition to protect the child from ongoing litigation by not sharing documents, electronic media or discussing legal issues with the child. They should also refrain from making disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
Ultimately, time is apportioned by the discretion of a judge. In some instances, the consideration of these factors may result in awarding custody to the parent who has been the child’s primary caregiver during the marriage. Although mothers are typically in that role, gender preference has been abrogated by the Florida court system. That means a father may be awarded primary residence if there is sufficient evidence that he is a better parent than the mother.
For More Information About Florida Custody Matters Contact the Florida Women’s Law Group
Making parenting plans and time-sharing schedules work successfully depends heavily on having an agreement that is customized to address the specific needs and goals of your family.
Our Florida divorce lawyers fight to ensure that the parenting agreement you enter is in the best interest of you and your child.
This is why it’s so important to find the right Florida divorce lawyer to take the time to create a unique strategy designed to protect your interests in court. If you’re currently planning to file for divorce and are concerned about having your interests represented, contact a Florida Women’s Law Group, Divorce lawyers for Women in Jacksonville for a consultation today.
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