Is 50/50 Timesharing a Myth Under Florida Law?
Going through a divorce can be an extremely stressful situation. It becomes even more so, when there are minor children involved.
It is not unusual to be confused about the current state of the law in Florida when it comes to timesharing. Many people are misinformed by their friends, relatives, and business associates Parents in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and throughout South Florida should have a proper understanding of time sharing laws, and how they are applied in the courts.Florida Time Sharing and Parental Responsibility
Last year legislation was presented to the Florida Governor for his approval which would have created a presumption in favor of equal time-sharing between parents. This particular piece of legislation was vetoed by the governor.
So how is time-sharing actually determined under Florida law? Time-sharing is governed by Florida statute 61.13. The court will determine all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
It is important to note that it is the public policy of the state of Florida that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.
There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.
Parental responsibility for a minor child will always be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Evidence of domestic violence can be considered by the court as evidence of detriment to the child.Access to Records and Information Pertaining to a Minor Child
A child's records, including, but not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, may not be denied to either parent. Full rights under Florida law apply to either parent unless a court order specifically revokes these rights, including any restrictions on these rights as provided for in a domestic violence injunction. Each parent has the same rights to access records and information of the minor child which are available to the other parent, without any limitation and also with the right to in-person communication with medical, dental, and education providers. The Best Interest Factors Under Florida Law
When a Judge is faced with making a decision regarding parental responsibility as well as time-sharing, the Judge will consider a long list of factors. These factors which the judge will consider are as follows:
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with the child.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- Mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child's friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
- Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- Particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
Time-sharing issues can become extremely complicated and factually intensive. Equal time-sharing or 50-50 timesharing is not an absolute. It is not even mentioned under Florida law. The court will consider all of the factors which have been outlined above. For help understanding your rights and navigating through these legal issues, contact a South Florida family law attorney today. For those of you residing in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, or surrounding communities, feel free to reach out to experienced attorney Alan R Burton today for compassionate, understanding, and aggressive advocacy. You can reach us at (954) 229-1660 or my cell at (954) 295-9222.