Time Sharing / Custody / Parental Responsibility
Time sharing is a complicated issue. There is no presumption in Florida that either parent have more time with minor children. Time sharing can be established in a Dissolution of Marriage or in a Paternity action. It is important to note that Florida Law does not presume the child should spend more time with the father or the mother.
The following factors are relevant to time sharing if you cannot settle at mediation and you must go to the Court for resolution of this issue:
(a) 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.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) 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.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) 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.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) 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.
(k) 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.
(l) 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.
(m) 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. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) 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.
(o) 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.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) 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.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
The following links will take you to the Palm Beach County Model Time sharing schedule in Palm Beach County:
Please note these forms were created years ago. We now see courts moving more toward equal time sharing. The holiday schedule in the model is useful if individuals are unsure how to divide up the holidays.
It is very important that parents carefully consider the initial schedule. In order to change schedule a parent must file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Time Sharing. In the State of Florida, once the Court has entered a Final Judgment regarding a dissolution, paternity or child support case, and a party seeks changes to the time-sharing decision (or even the child support amount), generally a Petition for Modification must be filed with the Court. In order to prevail on the initially filed case regarding time-sharing determination, the Court made its decision based upon the best interest of the child. Not so for a modification action. In order to prevail in a modification action, the party seeking modification has the extraordinary burden of proving a substantial change in circumstances occurred since the previous Final Judgment that warrants modification of the Final Judgment. After overcoming this burden, the party seeking modification must then show that the modification would be in the child’s best interest.
The Florida Legislature and the Florida courts have defined a substantial change in circumstances to be one that is substantial, material, unanticipated at the time of the Final Judgment, and permanent in nature. See Fla.Stat. 61.13(2)(c). The moving party must prove each and every one of these elements to prevail.
Sometimes individuals may wish to use the self-help forms available for purchase at your local courthouse or they can be printed online:
Self help forms:
Self Help forms fromFLcourts.org
There are 3 types of parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is not time sharing. This issue relates to decision making and can be hotly contested:
1. Shared parental responsibility
The majority of the population agree to, or are granted by court “shared parental decision making.” This means that all decisions should be shared by the parties. Decisions at issue are medical providers, educational decisions and
2. Ultimate decision making responsibility
Ultimate decision making is when one parent can be the tie-breaker between the two parents. This is not easy to get in court. Parents must have grounds for this, such as extreme non-cooperation to the point it becomes detrimental to the child. This situation could occur, for example, if the parents cannot agree on a school for kindergarten and now the child is not enrolled anywhere, the child is being hurt by the parents inability to agree.
3. Sole decision making authority
This is very difficult to convince a court to award. This means one parent may unilaterally make all the decisions for the child without even consulting the other parent. An example of when a court might deem this appropriate is when a parent is incarcerated.
Also, if domestic violence is occurring in the home in front of the child a person may obtain a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence on behalf of the abused parent or an abused child. If grounds exist, a temporary order is granted giving one parent sole time sharing and sole decision making temporarily until the court hears the matter at a hearing. These hearings are set to occur very quickly, so if you find yourself set for a hearings, you may wish to consult an attorney immediately.
The UCCJEA was enacted and adopted by all states essentially to allow for uniform rules with regard to jurisdiction over children. The basic premise starts with, whenever there is a child involved, only the court in the child’s “home state” is allowed (has jurisdiction) to make decisions about the child. There are many subtle nuances to this, and many situations in which this law is interpreted in a different manner than is clearly stated. For example a “temporary absence” from Florida does not affect the 6 months. The law is focused on intent, rather than an extended vacation, for example.
If you find yourself in a situation where you fear Florida may lose jurisdiction, act FAST. Your delay may cause you to have to battle it out in the state to where the mother or the father have left with the child.
PART II UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT (ss. 61.501-61.542)