When children are involved in a divorce having to deal with issues relating to where they will spend their time can get tricky.
Often one of the parents who used to see their children every day, now sees them according to a set schedule.
Several years ago Florida did away with traditional child custody law in favor of flexible parenting plans. That means that following a divorce neither parent starts out with any greater right to custody. A judge must decide what’s in the child’s best interest.
The Florida Legislature also expanded the factors that judges need to consider when determining time-sharing. The overriding concern rides on what is in the child’s best interest. There are twenty factors that the courts must consider including:
- The parents’ ability to have a close relationship with their child
- The parents’ ability to work with each other and to honor the time-sharing schedule
- The parents’ ability to put their child’s needs ahead of their own.
- Once the divorce is finalized, the ability to determine how parental responsibilities will be divided.
- Whether each parent will require child care when the child is with them
- How long the child has lived in a stable home
- Whether the parents live near each other and the child’s school
- How the child is doing in school
- How well informed each parent is of the child’s educational and extracurricular activities
- Whether the parents are involved in those activities
- The parent’s ability to provide the child with a routine
- Whether each parent is morally fit
- The parents’ physical and mental health
- The child’s preference
- Whether there has been any domestic violence, abuse or neglect
- Whether either parent has falsely accused the other parent of abuse
- What the parents’ responsibilities toward the child were before the divorce
- Whether a parent has exposed the child to alcohol or drug abuse
- Whether each parent has shielded the child from the divorce litigation
- The parents’ ability to meet the child’s current and future developmental needs
- Anything else that the judge believes might be relevant
Judges can give each of these factors different weight based on the individual circumstances. Florida law favors joint legal custody, unless there is evidence that this would be harmful to the child.
Florida law requires parents who share time with minor children to have written parenting plans that must be approved by the courts. The plan should include a number of factors such as: How they will share responsibility for daily parenting, the child’s time-sharing schedule, specific ways that the parents will communicate, and who will be primarily responsible for healthcare and school-related matters.
Sustainable Family Solutions can help you work out a time-sharing schedule designed to be in the best interest of your child. Contact us to discuss your needs. If you are interested in a consultation or have questions do not hesitate to contact Sustainable Family Solutions. Simply click here and send us a message and we will get right back to you.