Divorce can be an overwhelming process, especially if a parent doesn’t understand the reasoning and methodology behind the court’s decisions. One decision that many people must deal with is the courts’ decision on the custody arrangement.
When the amount of time you spend with your child is at issue, it often helps to understand the rules that the court must abide by when constructing a time-sharing schedule. In Florida, courts adhere to Florida Statute 61.13, which may be a little overwhelming to read at first glance. This is why the professionals who focus on family law with The Orlando Law Group are here to help.
Florida Statute 61.046(23) defines time-sharing as a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies the amount of time that a minor child will spend with each parent, which includes overnights and holidays. A time-sharing schedule can either be 1) developed and agreed upon by the parents, then approved by the court; or 2) established by the court, if the parents can’t agree or if the time-sharing schedule they have already developed is not approved.
61.13 (2)(c) further states that the court must make a decision regarding a minor child’s time-sharing based on the best interest of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This means that the court takes into account all factors that affect the welfare and interest of the minor child, as well as the circumstances of the family. For example, some of the factors that the court looks to when determining the best interest of the child are:
a. The capacity of each parent to encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required;
b. The ability of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
c. The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment;
d. The moral fitness of the parents;
e. The mental and physical health of the parents;
f. The home, school, and community record of the child;
g. The reasonable preference of the child;
h. The knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of circumstances that involve the child;
i. The ability of each parent to provide a routine for the child, such as discipline and daily schedules for homework, dinner, or bedtime;
j. The capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities involving the child;
k. Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
l. Evidence that either parent knowingly provided false information to the court regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
m. The ability of each parent to participate and be involved with the child’s school and extracurricular activities;
n. The ability of each parent to maintain an environment free from substance abuse;
o. The ability of each parent to protect the child from ongoing litigation, which includes: no talking about the litigation, no sharing documents with the child, and refraining from speaking badly about the other parent;
p. And any other factor that is relevant to the determination of time-sharing.
In addition to the best interest of the child, the court makes its decision in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or otherwise known as the “UCCJEA”. The purpose of the UCCJEA is to avoid competition and conflict between courts of another state, where matters of custody may have been previously handled.
The UCCJEA Affidavit requires the parent to fill out the child’s name, place of birth, birth date, sex, present address, the period of residence, and places where the child has lived within the past 5 years. It also requires the name, present address, and the relationship to the child for each person with whom the child has lived during that 5-year period.
Statute 61.13 further states that it is the public policy of the state that each minor has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or after the marriage is officially dissolved. It encourages both parents to share the rights and responsibilities that come with raising their child. It also emphasizes that there is no presumption against the father or mother of the child regarding their time-sharing, which essentially means that there is no predetermination made by the court regarding which parent the child will spend more time with. After the court weighs all of the factors outlined above, it will make its determination based on whatever time-sharing schedule is best suited for the child’s individual needs.
If you are currently struggling with determining a suitable time-sharing schedule in a divorce child custody situation, finding an attorney who can effectively help you during its construction is vital. The attorneys at The Orlando Law Group are ready, willing, and able to assist you with such a process. We have countless hours of experience in family court helping our clients navigate divorce cases and understand the type of custody that has been arranged.
Call 407.512.4394 to schedule a consultation today.