If you have children under the age of 18, then you will have to figure out a timesharing plan as part of your divorce. Not surprisingly, this is an emotional issue for many, and there is often confusion about current time-sharing laws.
Here are a few things you should know about timesharing as you consider divorce.
Time-sharing is the new term from child custody.
Most people are familiar with the term “custody”, but it is no longer used in Florida. As of 2008, Florida law replaced the term with “parenting plans” and “timesharing” to refer to parental responsibilities after a divorce.
Every divorcing couple with children under 18 is required to have a parenting plan, and your time-sharing arrangement will be a part of that.
You may determine your parenting plan together.
You can decide on a parenting plan with your spouse – or the court will make the schedule for you.
This parenting plan must include at least the following information:
- Time-sharing schedule
- Holiday time-sharing schedule
- Who is responsible for daily parenting tasks
- Who is responsible for tasks related to healthcare, education, extracurricular activities, childcare, and travel
- A communication plan for both parents and their child(ren)
Child support and time-sharing are separate issues.
If your spouse is not paying child support, you have many options available to get the money you deserve.
However, you may not restrict or refuse visitation with your children. By law, they are separate issues, except as it relates to calculating child support.
Florida law does not favor the mother or the father.
That means neither parent starts off with a greater right to time with their children.
In fact, the court is required to order shared parental responsibility unless that would be detrimental to the child. This could be the case if, for example, there are concerns about a parent’s ability to effectively communicate with their ex-spouse or care for the child(ren)’s:
- Health and safety
- Emotional and developmental needs
- Moral and ethical development
If necessary, such as in situations with drug abuse, criminal activity, abuse, or questionable living quarters, the court will restrict overnight visits, require supervised visitation, and grant decision-making authority to one parent.
Even if there are no extreme circumstances in your case, there are many other factors that may be taken into consideration when determining the final time-sharing arrangements. You should consult a divorce lawyer about what issues may come up in your particular situation.
You can take steps to increase your chances of getting more time with your child(ren).
- Be involved in your child’s schooling, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.
- Promote your child’s relationship with your ex-spouse.
- Maintain a child-friendly home, with safe and age-appropriate bedding, furniture, toys, and games.
- Meet your scheduled time-sharing obligations unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
- Maintain a regular routine for play, homework, meals, and bedtime with your children.
You can change the parenting plan later.
There are many reasons you might want to adjust your parenting plan, such as a move, a new job, or your child’s age. If both parents can agree, then you are free to make modifications together.
If you want a judge to grant changes, you must show there have been “substantial, unanticipated” changes to the circumstances and that adjusting the plan would be in the child’s best interest.
Every Situation Is Unique
There is no right or wrong way to decide on a parenting plan, as long as you have the children’s best interests in mind, but we urge you not to go through the process alone. When you create a parenting plan, you are setting the groundwork for your future relationship with your children.
Reach out to an experienced divorce and family law attorney who can help you protect your rights. If you have any questions or concerns about timesharing, we are here to help.