Many people consult with us about time-sharing here in the State of Florida. It’s very different than how other States address this, especially with the wording. The Florida Legislature abolished words as “custody” and “primary residential parent” in 2008. Instead, we use words such as time-sharing and parenting plans. The reason is simple – it recognizes that both parents are important.
Time-Sharing is based on the child’s best interests.
At the heart of every Time-Sharing decision is the best interests of the children. Florida law provides a series of factors which Courts use to fashion a parenting plan. The points considered includes the extent to which parents foster a relationship between the children and the other parent; and the extent to which each parent acts and considers based on the needs of the children instead of their own. Other important things include the home and school record of the children, work schedules, and distance between homes. Substance abuse and domestic violence are also considered, if that is an issue.
Based on these factors, a court will fashion a Parenting Plan which outlines the parents’ time-sharing. This also has many facets to it. A good parenting plan does more than outline the time each parent has with the kids. It should also outline how the parents will communicate with each other, and with the kids. It should also state which parent’s house will be used for school purposes, and how much notice is given before traveling out of State. Of course, a good parenting plan also outlines how holidays and special events will be divided.
Problems often arise when these kind of details are left out, and it’s much harder to change a parenting plan after it’s been accepted by the Court. So it’s important to review these in detail in any settlement conference, or before the trial judge. But the bottom line for any time-sharing arrangement is whether it’s the best for the kids involved. They are the ones who are most affected when parents separate.