Time with your child is precious. Never does this become more clear than when you are no longer in a relationship with your child’s other parent. In such situations, Florida law has parents develop a parenting plan that lays out a time-sharing schedule detailing when the child is in each parent’s care. If parents cannot agree on a plan, the court will develop a time-sharing schedule for the parents to follow. The following is a brief explanation of time-sharing in Florida.
Florida law recognizes that a child should have frequent and continuing contact with their parents. There is no presumption that either a father or a mother should be the best caretaker of the child. Any time-sharing schedule made in a parenting plan will be made based on the court’s determination of the best interests of the child.
Florida courts do not take their responsibility to develop time-sharing schedules lightly. They want to make sure they meet the child’s best interests as well as preserve the child’s relationship with each parent. The following are some factors courts will consider when developing a time-sharing schedule:
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to follow a time-sharing schedule.
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to put their child’s needs before theirs.
- How long the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and each parent’s ability to provide a consistent routine for the child.
- Where each parent lives and how this will affect time-sharing exchanges.
- Each parent’s moral fitness and health.
- The child’s wishes if they are able to express a preference.
- Each parent’s knowledge of the child’s life circumstances, including teachers, doctors, friends, activities and favorite things.
- Each parent’s willingness to communicate with one another on matters regarding the child.
This is only a partial list of the many factors a court will consider when making time-sharing decisions.
The child’s needs come first
Ultimately, whether parents are able to develop a time-sharing plan on their own or whether they turn to the court to do so, any time-sharing plan must meet the best interests of the child. Absent instances of abuse or neglect, children deserve to have a healthy and meaningful relationship with both parents, and this should be cemented in any time-sharing plans affecting the child.