Parents facing divorce are often concerned about how much time they will be able to spend with their child. The Florida courts system uses the term “time-sharing” when referring to child visitation and contact. Time-sharing is a visitation arrangement wherein one parent is awarded majority time-sharing and the other parent is awarded visitation. The courts generally determine that each child should have frequent and continued contact with both parents after a divorce.
The best interest standpoint
When determining custody, the courts take the best interest of the child into consideration. Factors for consideration include both parents’ ability to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and their desire to put the child’s needs first. A judge will also review the physical and mental health of each parent and the stability of each parent’s home. The court will also look at each parent’s ability to be involved in the child’s life, such as for school and extracurricular activities.
Awarding sole custody
Although sole custody arrangements are generally not considered in the best interest of the child, in certain situations the court may grant one parent sole responsibility over the child’s welfare. In most cases, sole custody is awarded if time with the other parent would be detrimental to the child. Parents with a history of domestic violence or criminal convictions may meet the detrimental criteria. Although the convicted parent may not be eligible for time-sharing, they are still obligated to financially support the child. Both parents, regardless of time-sharing rights, will have access to records and any information pertaining to the child.
Creating a plan
Before time-sharing is awarded by the court, parents are required to submit time-sharing and parenting plan agreements to the court for approval. A proposed time-sharing agreement needs to include a schedule for the time that child will spend with each parent. It should designate who will be responsible for health care decisions and school related matters. The court system also mandates that agreement needs to describe in detail the methods and technologies that will be used to communicate with the child. The court may approve or modify a parenting plan in order to better serve the needs of the child.
The right for children to spend time with their parents is fundamentally important. In Florida, neither the father nor the mother is presumed to be a better fit for childrearing and both parents are encouraged to share the rewards and responsibilities.