How Does a Florida Court Determine Timesharing?
As is the case in most states, Florida courts base custody decisions on the best interest of the child. Fla Stat. §61.13 sets forth the various factors that help a court determine whether a parenting plan or allocation of parental responsibilities is in the best interest of the child. In the text of its laws, it is clear that Florida has moved away from terms like “custody” and “visitation” in recent years, in favor of “shared parental responsibility” and “parenting plan.” The presumption is that frequent contact with both parents following a divorce or separation is in the best interest of the child. Florida law does recognize, however, that shared parenting is not a possibility or is inappropriate in some cases.
Factors that Affect the Best Interest of the Child
Florida law provides a variety of different factors that a court may consider in determining the best interest of a child, although the statute specifically states that the court may consider other relevant factors, as well, that may vary from case to case. These factors include the following:
- The ability and likelihood of each parent to foster the parent-child relationship and adhere to the parenting plan
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to place the child’s needs over their own needs
- The length of time that a child has lived in a stable and appropriate environment
- The geographical impact on a proposed parenting plan
- A parent’s moral fitness, mental health, and physical health
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and intelligence
- The interaction of a parent with the child’s family members, friends, teachers, medical care providers, and persons involved in extracurricular activities
- The ability of a parent to communicate with the child’s other parent
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect
- Evidence of a parent providing false information about any prior or pending allegation of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
- The child care tasks normally performed by each parent, both prior to and during the litigation
- The involvement of a parent with the child’s school and activities
- The ability of a parent to maintain an environment free of substance abuse
- The demonstrated capacity of a parent to protect the child from ongoing litigation
- The ability of a child to care for the developmental needs of the child, if any
Additionally, the court may consider any other relevant factors in a particular case that would affect a child’s best interest.
Florida Parenting Plans
As you can see from the lengthy list of factors above that are relevant to the best interest of the child, there is no set formula for determining whether a parenting plan is appropriate or best in a particular case. Rather, custody determinations tend to be a very fact-specific issue that can differ between cases and even between different courts. Florida law also sets forth a relatively strong presumption in favor of a parenting plan that involves shared parental responsibilities. Therefore, it can be extremely difficult to overcome this presumption. In other words, you will need strong evidence of any factor that makes shared parental responsibility or extensive parenting time inappropriate or not in the child’s best interest.
Call Vanessa L. Prieto, Attorney at Law
At the Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, you will find a Fort Lauderdale timesharing attorney who has the knowledge and the experience that you need to help create a parenting plan that is truly in your child’s best interest. Contact the Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC today, and explore the options that are available to you in your Florida timesharing case.