Child Custody (formerly known as Time-Sharing): It is the public policy of Florida to ensure each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or divorced and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing. The court gives both parties the same consideration in determining parental responsibility and time-sharing, regardless of the child’s age or gender.
In most cases, parental responsibility for a minor child will be shared by both parents so that each retains full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. Shared parenting requires both parents to confer so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly. You and your spouse may agree, or the court may order, that one parent have the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare, such as education, religion, or medical and dental needs. The court will determine any or all of these matters if the parties cannot agree.
In rare cases, the court can order sole parental responsibility to one parent. To do so, the court must determine that shared parental responsibility would cause harm to the child.
In determining parental responsibility, the court will approve or devise its own parenting plan that includes responsibility for the daily tasks of child rearing, the time-sharing schedule, and decision-making authority relating to health care, school, and related activities. The plan will also specify any technology that will be used for parent-child communication. The parents may agree on a parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval or the court will determine these issues. The statute includes a list of factors for the court to consider in making these decisions.
Some of the factors taken into consideration will include the following:
- the length of time the child has been in his/her current environment and the need to maintain as much continuity as possible
- the parents divided responsibilities and their ability to put their child’s needs first
- the fitness of the parents in moral, physical and mental terms
- the parent’s ability to provide a routine, including their work schedule and free time
- the child’s preference if he/she is deemed mature enough to have a say in the matter
- the parent’s involvement in their child’s life, such as doctors appointments or extracurricular activities
- the occurrences of violence, abuse, or neglect
If the parties cannot enter into an agreement on this issue of timesharing, the judge will consider these factors and more when making his/her decision.
Call Law Office of Patricia Palma, P.A. at 813-693-5158 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney in Tampa, Florida.