Florida refers to custody as “time-sharing” of minor children among both parents. A time-sharing schedule generally sets forth the time that each parent will spend with the minor children during the week and during the weekends, as well as where the minor children will sleep at night. A time-sharing schedule will generally also address Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Hannukah, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, along with birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Florida law favors shared parental responsibility in which both parents jointly make important decisions related to their children’s welfare, such as those concerning medical care, education, and religion. If a court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child, it may grant one parent sole responsibility to unilaterally make important decisions concerning the child’s upbringing. Courts determine time-sharing arrangements based upon the best interests of the children, and both parents are to be given equal consideration regardless of the age and gender of the children. At Donaghy Law, we can help you understand all of the statutory factors, your options, and evaluate what would be in the best interests of your child. We serve clients in Seminole, Orange, and Volusia counties, including but not limited to, residents of Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Altamonte Springs, Apopka, Orlando, DeLand, Daytona Beach, and surrounding areas.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a document that governs the relationship between the parties, in regards to 1) the decisions that must be made regarding the minor child, and 2) time-sharing schedule for the parents and the minor child. Fla. Stat. § 61.13(2)(b). The parenting plan must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and the child and it must be approved by the court. Fla. Stat. § 61.13(2)(b).
How Does a Parenting Plan/Time-Sharing Schedule Work?
The time-sharing schedule specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent. If the parents cannot agree, then the court will craft a time-sharing schedule. Fla. Stat. § 61.13(2)(c). In developing a plan, the parties are not permitted to simply provide for general shared parental responsibility. Any parenting plan developed must, at a minimum, describe in detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child, the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent, a designation of who will be responsible for all forms of health care, school-related matters, and other activities, and the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child. Fla. Stat. § 61.13(2)(b). The parenting plan must put the best interests of the minor child as the primary consideration when being created. Fla. Stat. § 61.13(3). In determining the best interests of the child regarding time-sharing, the court looks at several factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child. Fla. Stat. § 61.13(3). Keep in mind that the court has the ultimate authority to protect the welfare and best interests of the minor child and may disregard any agreement the parties have made.
What Should I include in the Parenting Plan?
At a minimum, the Parenting Plan must describe in adequate detail: 1) how the parties will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child(ren); 2) the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child(ren) will spend with each parent; 3) a designation of who will be responsible for all forms of health care, school-related matters, including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration, other activities, and 4) the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child(ren). The best interests of the child(ren) are the primary consideration in the Parenting Plan. In creating the Parenting Plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration. Determination of the best interests of the child(ren) shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interest of the particular minor child(ren) and the circumstances of that family.
What if My Spouse and I Cannot Agree on a Parenting Plan?
If you and your spouse cannot reach agreement on a permanent parenting plan, then each of you should file and serve a proposed parenting plan on or before the date set by the judge. It will then be up to the judge to decide which plan is in the best interests of the child. Allow Donaghy Law help you reach a common ground with your spouse so that the only people deciding what is best for your children are the parents.
If you have questions regarding child custody/time sharing, contact Donaghy Law to schedule a free consultation.