If your court case involves a minor child, you’ll need an active parenting plan before case closure. This document is crucial. It sets the timesharing schedule and resolves case-related issues.
In Florida, the legal term for custody is “timesharing”.
A timesharing schedule is a “timetable that . . . specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent.” See Florida Statute §61.046(23).
The Parenting Plan must include this schedule.
The Court will establish the time-sharing schedule if the parents cannot agree to a schedule. See Florida Statute §61.046(23)(b).
Do Courts give preference to one parent over the other?
No. There is no presumption in favor of the father or mother when creating a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. See Florida Statute §61.13.
Nowadays, both parents typically work full-time. Parents also now equally partake in responsibility for the care of their child. Courts are favoring a closer-to-equal or even equal timesharing schedule.
Best Interest of the Minor Child
The child’s best interests primarily guide the creation of the parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. See Florida Statute §61.13(2)(c). In determining a child’s best interests, a trial court must consider the current, not the prospective, interests of the child.
In Florida, determining the best interests of the child in custody cases is a multi-faceted process governed by a variety of factors. These can be summarized into a few key categories for easier understanding:
Parental Responsibility and Communication
- Courts consider each parent’s ability to foster a strong parent-child relationship and honor the time-sharing schedule.
- The division of parental duties post-litigation is also important, as is each parent’s ability to put the child’s needs above their own.
- Effective communication between parents about the child’s circumstances and activities is crucial.
Stability and Environment
- Maintaining a stable, satisfactory environment where the child has been living is desirable.
- The geographical viability of the parenting plan matters, especially in terms of travel time and the child’s school needs.
- The child’s home, school, and community records also weigh in.
- The moral and physical health of each parent is evaluated.
- A parent’s ability to provide a substance-free environment and protect the child from the stress of litigation is essential.
Child Preferences and Safety
- If mature enough, the child’s own preferences may be considered.
- Any evidence of domestic or sexual violence, child abuse, abandonment, or neglect is highly significant.
Routine and Daily Activities
- The court looks at each parent’s ability to maintain consistent routines for the child, like homework schedules and mealtimes.
- Participation in the child’s school and extracurricular activities is also assessed.
- Any false information provided about domestic violence or child neglect can be detrimental.
- Courts may also consider any other factors that directly relate to creating a specific parenting plan.
By understanding these categories, you get a clearer picture of what the court considers when determining the best interests of the child in Florida.
Can you modify the timesharing schedule?
Yes. You can modify a timesharing schedule. To change the timesharing schedule, you must prove two things. First, substantial circumstances have changed since the original order. Second, the modification benefits the child’s best interests.
Tips for avoiding a Custody Trial
Avoiding a custody trial can save you both time and emotional strain, not to mention the potential positive impact on your children. Here’s how to steer clear of the courtroom while still ensuring the best for your young ones:
- Prioritize an arrangement that you feel is in the best interests of your child, rather than focusing solely on legal jargon like “custody” or “visitation.”
- Recognize that your child needs quality time with both parents, and aim to facilitate that.
Emotional and Rational Separation
- Separate your feelings towards your partner from their parenting skills. Disliking your partner doesn’t automatically make them an unfit parent.
Scheduling and Logistics
- Consider the daily routines and job schedules of each parent. Tailor your time-sharing agreement to align with these schedules, keeping your child’s needs in focus.
- Avoid involving your children in the legal aspects or asking them to choose sides. This can put unnecessary emotional stress on them.
Mediation as a Tool
- If reaching an agreement proves difficult, consult a mediator. Mediation allows both parents to retain more control over the time-sharing agreement compared to letting a judge decide.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’re more likely to arrive at a mutually agreeable time-sharing schedule without the need for a stressful, expensive trial.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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