Florida parents going through a divorce are often very concerned about how much time they will get to spend with their child post-divorce. Knowing that you will not have your child in your care 24/7 is difficult to deal with. However, Florida law recognizes that children thrive when they have a meaningful relationship with both parents and the law bases physical child custody — known as time-sharing — decisions with this goal in mind.
Florida public policy on time-sharing
Florida law recognizes that public policy requires a child to have frequent and continuing contact with each parent post-divorce. Parents are encouraged to share the rights, responsibilities and joys of raising their child. Contrary to what some parents may believe, mothers are not given priority over fathers when it comes to time-sharing decisions. Instead, time-sharing decisions are based on the “best interests of the child.”
Best interests of the child factors
Courts will consider a variety of factors when determining the best interests of the child. Each parent’s ability and willingness to facilitate and encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent, to adhere to the time-sharing schedule and to act reasonably if modifications need to be made will be considered. Each parent’s ability and willingness to prioritize the child’s needs above their own will be considered as well.
How long the child has lived in a stable environment and whether this should be continued may be considered. The child’s home, school and community record may be considered. The division of parental responsibilities including third-party care responsibilities will be considered. Whether the parenting plan is feasible geographically will be considered.
Each parent’s ability and willingness to keep each other informed about the child’s friends, health, activities and favorite things may be considered. Each parent’s ability and willingness to provide the child with a stable routine and be involved in the child’s education and extracurricular activities may be considered. The tasks each parent customarily undertook prior to and during the divorce may be considered. The child’s developmental needs and each parent’s willingness and ability to meet these needs will be considered.
Each parent’s health and moral fitness will be considered. The child’s preference will be considered as long as it is reasonable. Whether domestic violence or substance abuse is an issue will be considered. Each parent’s ability and willingness to protect the child’s interests during the divorce process may be considered. Finally, courts will consider any other relevant factors when making time-sharing decisions.
Learn more about time-sharing in Florida
Time-sharing decisions can be difficult to make, so it is important that the child’s best interests are prioritized. Florida parents who want to learn more about time-sharing in Florida may find our firm’s website to be a useful resource.