Visitation / Time Sharing Plans
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Shared Parental Responsibility is the legal presumption in Florida. The Court feels that both parents should be actively involved in their children's lives, education, religious upbringing, health and welfare. The Court will grant Shared Parental Responsibility unless the Court finds that it is detrimental to the children. Domestic Violence can be a reason against awarding shared parental responsibility. Otherwise, both parents will work together jointly raising their children.
Parenting Plans and Time Sharing
Today Florida Courts typically award what's called Shared Parental Responsibility involving:
Court-approved Parenting Plan
It describes in detail how parents decide such issues as education, health care, and other legal considerations regarding the daily care and upbringing of their children.
Time Sharing Schedule (Visitation)
Each parent is granted reasonable and frequent time, that sets the number of overnights or weekends the child will spend with each parent, as well as schedules for pickup and drop-off, vacations and summers, school activities, and so on.
Considerations of the Court
In determining the Parenting Plan, the Courts give great weight to which of you is more likely to foster a loving, close relationship between the child and the other parent. Sabotaging the child's bond with the other parent or bad-mouthing the other parent in Court, are the surest ways to compromise your position.
Do you know what the Courts look for when they make decisions about parenting issues commonly known as child custody or visitation? It might not be what you think.
When it comes to children and divorce, the Judge wants to do what is in the best interests of the child. To make that decision, the Judge will look closely at the attitudes of both parents. As your legal counsel, we will take the time to educate you about the Law and what the Court is looking for. With thorough preparation and attention to detail, we will help you get the results that are best for you and your child.
While it is acceptable to leave these decisions to the Court when parents cannot come to an agreement, this is not the preferred method of the Court. The Court wants to believe that the parents can come together and make decisions for the sake of their children. A shared parenting arrangement established by the Court can be rigid and difficult to change. A negotiated shared Parenting Plan, however, can be flexible to fit the needs of both parents while also serving the best interests of the children.
Determining the Best Interests of the Child
For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parents' relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.
Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the minor child, including, but not limited to:
(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child's friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
Can I Get Sole Custody?
It is important to realize that shared parental responsibility means both parents share equal responsibility and decision-making and that no one has any greater rights or powers regarding the children. However, many parents mistakenly believe that they should be awarded sole residential and decision-making responsibility because they are a "better" parent.
Under most circumstances, don't waste your time and money seeking sole parental responsibility. Courts will not cut the other parent out of the picture without demonstrated evidence that it is detrimental to the children. "Poor parenting" is not the criteria; it must be an actual danger to the child (physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, criminal activity, substance abuse).
Our Commitment to You
The Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A. has an outstanding team that is dedicated to providing you with the kind of legal representation you deserve. To us, that means working closely with you to understand your goals and ensure the shared Parenting Plan truly reflects your needs and the needs of your children.
Our many successful results demonstrate our dedication to hard work, our genuine concern for clients and the trust that we instill in each client. Many former clients have shown their confidence in our services by sending a friend or family member our way when they are faced with a difficult Family Law problem — and we are happy to serve their needs with the same level of compassion, support and experience.
Attorney Michael Hines has successfully resolved Parenting Plan issues and situations from amicable and fairly simple to logistically complex to the seemingly impossible.