The State of Florida has a standing presumption that both parents should be involved in their children’s lives. This presumption informs Florida law and the decision-making processes in Florida courts. Timesharing (also referred to as “visitation” in other jurisdictions) occurs when parents physically spend time with or reside with their children. When couples separate, they need to develop a parenting plan whenever they share children together. One part of this parenting plan is the “parental responsibility” side, which essentially covers the key decisions and responsibilities of raising a child. The other part is timesharing.
Just like many other aspects of a divorce, parents can create their own parenting plan independently and then submit it to the court for review. Or, they can develop a parenting plan with the professional assistance of a mediator. If parents cannot develop a plan on their own, or with the help of a mediator, then they may need to create a plan through litigation. In many cases, parents can have approximately equal amounts of time with the child; in other cases, one parent may have the majority of the time. Parents can create timesharing schedules that harmonize with their professional demands.
If the court becomes involved in the parenting plan creation process, then the court will initially defer to certain prearranged timesharing plans. But the court can also modify a plan if there is a compelling reason. Importantly, if there is evidence of domestic violence, this will result in a loss of timesharing rights for the perpetrator. Also, supervised timesharing may be ordered if a judge has a reason to believe that such supervision is necessary for the child’s safety.
Timesharing plans must be consistent with the “best interests of the child” standard. This is the same standard that governs the other aspects of child custody in Florida. As mentioned, Florida starts with the principle that joint timesharing is in the child’s best interests; evidence will need to be presented in order to overcome this presumption. When reviewing or developing a timesharing plan, a judge will look for certain well-known factors which have significance. A few of these factors are as follows:
These are just a few of the known factors which carry weight in these types of analyses. Simply put, a judge can alter any timesharing plan if the judge believes it would be in the child’s best interests to do so. This is true even if the parents develop a timesharing plan independently and submit it to the court. Judges will perform a global analysis of a couple’s situation and make a determination which best responds to the circumstances.
The Family Matters Law Firm has over 25 years of experience serving families in Miami. We strive to assist our clients with all aspects of the divorce and separation processes, including conflict resolution, therapist referrals, and finance management referrals. We will help you divorce yourself from the fight and find peace of mind as you make a fresh start.
Call us today at The Family Matters Law Firm at (305) 701-2901 or contact us online to schedule a strategy session for legal advice with a legal separation attorney in Miami, FL.
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