Time Sharing- the  "new custody"

Just hearing the term "child custody" for couples who have decided to part ways can cause emotional upheaval. . To help understand how the Florida courts view time sharing so you can be prepared for your case, you will want to understand the legal factors that your Judge will consider when he or she hears your case. ​

The term "custody" has been eliminated from Florida Law for the most part. The term "time sharing" has replaced it. Time Sharing is the concept that designates how much time each parent will spend with their child and where.

So who decides?

In a perfect world, the parents create a time sharing schedule that is in the best interest of the child or children.  Many couples are able to do this.  But, in a highly contested case, it can seem impossible. Often one spouse will use the children as a bargaining tool, which if against the best interest of the fchild and will cause a judge to rule against that parent. 

If the parents can"t agree then the court decides for them.

How does the court decide in the cases when the parents cannot agree?

The court orders the time sharing schedule based on the child’s best interests as defined in Florida Statute 61.13.

The parent that ends up with the child for a longer period of parenting time is referred to as the “majority parent.”

The “ Best Interest of the child” is the defined legal standard that all Florida judges must follow.. If you are facing a contested  case,

we recommend that you read Florida statute 61.13(3). How does your situation compare to the listed factors?

What are the factors that Judges must consider?

  •         One of the most important factors is whether a parent who will be or is the residential parent will allow continuing and frequent contact with the parent who lives away (“non residential parent.”) If the parent interferes with the bond between the child and the other parent, then the judge will disfavor that parent.

  •          A basic consideration is the ability of both parents to take care of their child by providing food, medical care, clothing, and other remedial care.  Don't worry if your spouse is in a better financial situation than you.  The courts will not interpret this to favor the parent with more money as long as you can provide the cared mentioned above.

  • –      The court will consider the love, affection and emotional ties that exist between child and parents. 

  • –       The parents’ moral fitness, mental health and physical health. 

  • –       The child’s school, home and community record. The court looks favorably on the parent that is involved in his or her child's

  • education.  This factor works against a parent that is not involved or who doesn't adequately supervise school involvement of their child.

  • –       The time for which the child has lived in a satisfactory and stable environment, and if it is desirable for him or her to continue living in this environment. This factor allows the judge to look at the history and whether that pattern has worked for the child.

  • –       If the child is deemed to possess sufficient intelligence, experience and understanding in expressing a preference, then his/her reasonable preference will be taken into account. With rare exceptions, most judges will not listen to the preference of children.

  • –       A huge factor is evidence of child abuse or domestic violence. 

  • –       One that is rare, is evidence that aparty knowingly furnished false information regarding a domestic violence proceeding, to the court.  *

  • –      Lastly,  other factors that the court may deem to be relevant. This allows the judge to look at many different things when deciding.

Gavel and paperwork Florida

       Arna D. Cortazzo

Protecting Floridians' Rights for over 30 years.