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In Florida, terms such as child custody, sole custody or even designating a primary residential parent have been done away with.  Instead, courts refer to a child's time spent living with each parent as time-sharing.  Whenever possible, Florida courts will encourage “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents.  While the court will look at the individual circumstances and is always guided by the best interests of the child, it is a matter of public policy in Florida that both parents share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children.

Time-Sharing Schedules

In Florida, the time-sharing agreement between two parents is required to be spelled out in a time-sharing schedule.  This time-sharing schedule is a formal document that must be filed with the court along with the parenting plan, which includes additional terms that will govern finances, obligations and responsibilities that both parties owe to the child or children.  Florida courts tend to believe that children do best when they have routines and, therefore, highly discourage frequent deviations from the time sharing schedule.  In fact, a parent's willingness to adhere to the time-sharing schedule is one of the primary consideration used to determine the best interests of the child when the court is asked to develop a parenting plan.

Supervised Time-Sharing

In some cases, the court will order supervised time-sharing.  A parent may request supervised time-sharing when they believe that the child or children cannot be sagely along with the other parent or would be a detriment to the children.  Supervised time-sharing should only be requested when the parent genuinely believes the child or children will not be safe alone with the other parent.  Since courts tend to prefer shared parenting and an equal split of time, responsibilities and child rearing, they also can look poorly on your case if it appears you are using a request for supervised time-sharing inappropriately to hurt the other parent.

Sole Parental Responsibility in Florida

In Florida, it is an incredibly difficult task for one parent to be granted sole parental responsibility.  In sole parental responsibility, only one parent makes the decisions regarding health, education and upbringing.  In sole parental responsibility cases the child or children also maintain a physical presence with only one parent.  In order to be granted sole parental responsibility in Florida, the requesting parent must present evidence and the court must find that one parent is unfit to share parenting.

Shared Parenting

Shared parenting is one of the most common time-sharing arrangements in Florida custody cases.  In shared parenting, both parents must discuss and agree to any major decisions regarding raising the child or children.  Shared parenting can be a difficult arrangement if parents cannot get along or are hostile to each other.  This is a reason why courts consider the parent's willingness to communicate calmly and effectively with each other when deciding the best interest of the child in a parenting plan.

Time-Sharing in Florida can involve many forms, documents and intricacies.  For such an important issue, you may wish to consult with an attorney experienced in time-sharing and parenting plans, such as those at the Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A.

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