Building Bright Moments: Navigating Timesharing Agreements with Heart and Expertise
Timesharing & Parental Responsibility Overview
The term “custody” does not exist under Florida law, rather the time a parent spends with their child is called “time-sharing.” A Parenting Plan provides for the time- sharing and may be agreed to by the parties or established by the Court and contains the time a child spends with each parent, which is based on the child’s best interest. Florida Statute §61.13, is the basis of family law in Florida, and importantly, it sets forth the standards and considerations for time-sharing and custody arrangements in the state.
Florida Statute §61.13
Florida Statute §61.13 establishes the basis for timesharing agreements and starts with the fundamental presumption that children benefit from spending equal time with both parents.
While the law leans towards a 50/50 time-sharing model, it allows for different family's circumstances, meaning this presumption can be contested if evidence suggests that equal time-sharing might not serve the child's best interests.
Important Considerations Under Florida Statute §61.13
The court's primary focus is always the best interest of the child. In determining the best interest of the child, several critical factors influence its decisions on time- sharing. Included are the following:
- the capacity and disposition of each parent regarding facilitating and encouraging a close continued parent-child relationship,
- the length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment,
- the mental, physical, and moral health of both parents,
- the reasonable preference of the child (if age appropriate), and
- domestic violence, substance abuse, or other known abuse issues for both parents.
In a divorce, paternity, or parenting actions involving children, Florida law provides each parent the right to remain actively engaged in their child's life. In addition to a parenting plan that will establish each parents time-sharing and shared decision making affecting the child's welfare and well-being, such as medical care, religion, and education. This is called “parental responsibility.”
Parental decision-making in Florida provides for three (3) types of decision-making in terms of co-parenting:
- Shared Parental Responsibility
- Shared Parental Responsibility with Ultimate Decision-Making Authority
- Sole Parental Responsibility
Unless detrimental to the child, Shared Parental Responsibility is the default in Florida. If either parent is deemed as unfit to co-parent safely and effectively because of issues such as emotional problems, drug or alcohol addictions, or criminal history, the Court may award sole parental responsibility to the other parent. The Court may grant one parent with ultimate decision-making authority over a particular decision or all three of the above if the parties cannot come to an agreement.
Experience With Florida Statute §61.13
This is often the most stressful and important issue especially at the onset of the parties separation, when emotions are heightened, and difficult decisions are necessary in a Dissolution of Marriage and having an experienced attorney who will provide you with the most important information and factors will allow for the best decisions for your family and most importantly in the best interest of your children.
Here are the two most common questions clients ask us regarding timesharing:
How long will this take? The duration of the timesharing process varies based on individual circumstances and cooperation between parties. We strive to efficiently navigate the legal procedures, aiming for a resolution that prioritizes the best interests of your children. Timelines can be influenced by factors such as negotiations, court availability, and the complexity of the case.
How much will this cost? The cost of arranging timesharing varies based on several factors, including the complexity of your case, the degree of agreement between parties, and the time required to reach a resolution. At our firm, we strive for cost-effective solutions and transparency in billing. We'd be happy to discuss your specific situation during a consultation to provide a more tailored estimate of the costs involved.
The Legal Process
Here's a general overview of the steps involved in navigating a timesharing with us. From initial consultations to final agreements, we break down each stage, providing clarity and guidance to help you understand what to expect. Our aim is to make the legal journey as smooth and informed as possible, ensuring you feel supported at every turn.
Initial Consultation: We start by thoroughly understanding your family dynamics and the specific needs of your children, forming the foundation of a tailored timesharing strategy.
Negotiation and Agreement: Utilizing skilled negotiation, we work towards a mutually agreeable and child-focused timesharing plan, ensuring it aligns with the best interests of your children.
Legal Formalization: Once an agreement is reached, we meticulously handle the legal documentation and court procedures to formalize the timesharing arrangement, ensuring it's legally binding and enforceable.