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Florida SB 250 Addresses Parental Time-Sharing Schedules

Florida State Senator Tom Lee has introduced SB 250, entitled “Family Law Reform,” which is a 41-page proposal that would address alimony and time-sharing of children between parents. The Florida Senate will consider Lee’s proposal during the 2016 Senate session.

Bill Proposes Changes to Child Time Sharing Schedules

SB 250 proposes some drastic changes to current child time-sharing laws. Florida’s current law, which is set forth in 2015 Florida Statutes 61.13, encourages children to spend time with both parents, but does not mandate the amount of time that a child should spend with each parent. Laws related to child custody and parenting time in recent years have moved away from the concepts of “custody” and “visitation,” in favor of the term “time-sharing.” A child’s time-sharing schedule ideally should adapt to the needs and activities of the child, depending on whatever schedule is in the child’s best interest. This legal standard traditionally takes into account the location of each parent’s home, the child’s education and upbringing, the child’s religion, the child’s health care needs, and developmental factors, as well.

On the other hand, SB 250 would create a legal presumption that the best interest of a child is served by a schedule that provides for a 50/50 split with each parent. This means that a child would be required to spend equal amounts of time with each parent. If a parent wants to overcome the legal presumption, he or she would be required to present evidence in court that such an arrangement is not in the best interest of the child, a process that is likely to be both long and costly.

Florida Breastfeeding Coalition Opposes SB 250

The Florida Breastfeeding Coalition, which is a statewide coalition of pediatric, obstetric, and lactation experts, has already spoken out against SB 250. The Coalition cited concerns about equal time-sharing preventing mothers from breastfeeding their children, which can negatively affect both parent-child bonding and medical benefits for the child. That group pointed out that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding for one year or longer. If a court orders an infant to spend 50% of the time with each parent, breastfeeding becomes a virtual impossibility.

Florida Would Be First State to Enact 50/50 Parenting in Divorces

No other state’s family laws establish a legal presumption of 50/50 parenting for children in divorces. A breastfeeding mother simply cannot continue breastfeeding with long periods of separation between her and the child. Moreover, it is not reasonable for a father to provide the child to the mother each and every time that the child needs to be fed, particularly during the first six months of his or her life. Additionally, it is unlikely in many cases that a divorcing father and mother could cooperate to make exclusive breastfeeding work for their child.

Contact Your Florida Divorce Attorney for Assistance

Whether you are struggling to establish a time-sharing plan with your estranged spouse or seeking a change to the existing time-sharing schedule with your ex, you need an experienced Florida divorce lawyer who can help you through the often-difficult process of establishing or changing a time-sharing arrangement. Contact Vanessa L. Prieto in Florida and learn how we can help.