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Time-Sharing and Parenting Plans

We know at the South Florida Office of Arica L. Braaten, P.A. that one of the most personal and an important parts of your case is the time-sharing of your children. The courts now require a detailed time sharing “parenting plan.” If the parents can not agree, the court will dictate one to the parties. We encourage the parents to agree on a parenting plan and a great majority do so; we also recommend reviewing the parenting plan form (yes, there is a form) with your attorney before conferring with the other parent.

Shared Parental Responsibility

Shared Parental Responsibility is the legal norm in Florida. The State of Florida feels that both parents should be actively involved in their children's lives including making decisions about education, religious upbringing, health and welfare. The court will grant Shared Parental Responsibility unless one parent can prove that Shared Parental Responsibility would be detrimental to the child (ren). It is a heavy burden of proof--there are other ways to protect the children without proving “detriment”, which our office can discuss with you.

It is the public policy of Florida to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or divorce and to encourage the parents to share the rights and responsibilities of childrearing.

If the court determines that shared parental responsibility is not in the best interest of the minor child, it can award sole parental responsibility, which means that only one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child.

Time-sharing Schedule

The court must ratify a timesharing schedule. The time-sharing schedule is often included in the parenting plan. The Florida legislature has stated that:

"Time-sharing schedule means a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays that a minor child will spend with each parent. If developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child, it must be approved by the court. If the parents cannot agree, the schedule shall be established by the court."

Parenting Plans

The Parenting Plan also details the way the parents will work together and include provisions regarding the methods that the parents will use to communicate with the children (skype, texting, emails, etc.), which parent will be responsible for transporting the child, foreign travel, etc. When a Parenting Plan is developed and agreed to by the parents it only needs the approval of the court to become binding, but when the parents can’t agree, the Judge sets the plan with a likely result that neither parent is happy with.

The "Best Interests" Of the Minor Child in Determining Shared Parental Responsibility and Parenting Plans

When parents can not agree on a Parenting Plan and the court must make a determination, the “best interests” of the child is the main determination. A court will evaluate the following twenty factors in making this determination:

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child
  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The home, school, and community record of the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child's friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect
  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's developmental needs
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

Contact Arica L. Braaten, P.A. at (954) 380-6000 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss these issues further.