In Florida, child custody arrangements are referred to as “parenting plans” and are ordered in accordance with what is in the best interests of the child. Parents who are getting divorced in Florida are required to establish a parenting plan. Similarly, unmarried parents who are the subject of a paternity action are also required to establish a parenting plan. This plan dictates how important parenting decisions will be made as well as a time-sharing schedule that specifies how much time each parent will spend with their kids. Ideally the time-sharing schedule is developed between the parents; however, in contested custody cases where the parents cannot come to an agreement, a family court judge will craft the schedule for them. This article outlines the common issues that you should be aware of if you have children and are contemplating getting divorced in Florida/filing a paternity action in Florida.
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 61.13(2)(c)2., the court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child (i.e., how major decisions will be made by the parents on behalf of the child) be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Thus, the statutory presumption in Florida is that the parties exercise shared parental responsibility. However, when special circumstances are present and/or where shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the minor child, one parent may be granted ultimate decision-making authority over specific aspects of the child’s welfare. In the most extreme of circumstances, one parent may be awarded sole parental responsibility.
Unlike parental responsibility (decision-making), there is no statutory presumption for one time-sharing schedule/custody arrangement in Florida. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 61.13(2)(c)1., it is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child. A determination of the time-sharing schedule in the best interests of the minor child is made by evaluating twenty (20) factors as reflected in Fla. Stat. 61.13(3).
Modifying a Parenting Plan in Florida
It should be noted that family law courts in Florida will almost always approve a proposed modification to a parenting plan if both parents agree to the modification.This flexibility stems from the fact that the court has an interest in encouraging parents to work together while raising their children. However, if one parent wants to modify their parenting plan and the other parent does not agree, then the court will determine a party’s modification request based upon: a) whether the moving party can demonstrate there has been a substantial change in circumstances since entry of the last order/entry of the most recent parenting plan; and b) whether the requested modification is in the best interest of the child.
Need Legal Advice?
Determining an appropriate parenting plan, inclusive of a time-sharing schedule, is often one of the most challenging aspects of getting divorced. Family law lawyer David L. Hirschberg is conscientious of how challenging this process can be and is here to help. Mr. Hirschberg has years of experience negotiating child custody arrangements and fighting for time-sharing schedules that are in the best interest of his clients and their families. Contact our Boca Raton office at (561) 763-7622 today to schedule a confidential consultation.