“Time-sharing” is the term used in Florida to describe what was formerly legally known as and often still referred to as “child custody.” In an effort toward shifting away from designations such as “primary custodial parent”, “secondary custodial parent”, “sole custody”, etc., Florida law now dictates that absent extraordinary circumstances, it is in a Minor Child’s best interest to have and enjoy continuous and regular time-sharing with both parents. Only in very extreme circumstances can Court supervised visitation be ordered, and this generally occurs where there may be imminent danger to the child or health. Dependent upon the circumstances of the Parents, the Parents will either negotiate or a Court will order what is called a “Parenting Plan” based upon a multiple factor test called “The Best Interest of the Minor Child(ren) Test.” Although the wording of the test may seem simple and straight forward, there are many factors in determining what the best interests of the Minor Child(ren) may be. Some of the relevant factors and issues used in the test are included but not limited to:
- Living conditions;
- Work conditions;
- Ability to financially support and provide a safe environment for your child;
- History of violence;
- History of substance abuse;
- Keeping siblings together and
- The child’s preferences based on the child’s age and ability to make any such choice.
Parenting plans can include but are not limited to the following:
- A Time-sharing schedule which specifies how, where and when the Minor Child(ren) will spend time with each parent, including holidays and academic break periods;
- A designation of shared or sole parental responsibility as to whether one or both parents have the ability to make major decisions affecting the Minor Child(ren)’s life/lives, including but not limited to medical and scholastic decisions;
- The proportionate share of each parent to pay for non-child support expenses such as extra-curricular activities, private school, college tuition, etc.;
- Telephonic Communication between parents and the Minor Child(ren) and the parent(s);
- Other special provisions specific to the situation of the Parties including but not limited to alcohol/drug consumption around or near Minor Child, provisions for qualifications of babysitters, child care and caretakers, restrictions related to transportation of Minor Child(ren), Right of First Refusal if one parent is unable to exercise his/her time-sharing, medical emergency protocols etc.
At SHAMY, EL FADEL & MAHONE, we are dedicated to evaluating all aspects of the factors to be applied in determining the “Best Interest of a Minor Child”, identifying your main goals and preferences as it relates to time-sharing of your Minor Child(ren) and developing a time-sharing plan which is fair and just to both Parties.