Family Law: Visitation and Time-Sharing Florida state statutes¶ chapter 61 made significant changes in Florida law

regarding visitation and child custody after a divorce for residents of Florida. Terms have changed to reflect the desire of the courts to maintain the important parenting roles of both father and mother. The following old terms have been eliminated as of October 1, 2008: y y y y y Visitation Custody Primary residence Primary residential parent/primary child custody Secondary residential parent/secondary child custody

These old terms have been replaced in Florida law by terms such as ³time-sharing,´ ³parenting plan,´ and ³substantial shared parenting.´ In the parenting plan the details regarding the time-sharing which will occur between each parent and each child is decided upon. The most common parenting plan is one according to which one parent is awarded majority time-sharing (formerly called physical custody) while the remaining parent is given time-sharing (formerly called visitation) rights. ³Substantial shared parenting´ or 50/50 time-sharing refers to what would previously been called joint physical custody of the child/children. Parenting plans must take into consideration accommodations/provisions for children who have special needs. Florida law and public policy is intended to make certain that both parents continue to bear responsibility for raising their child or children. Parents have divorced one another but not their children. Minor children must continue to see their parents often and on a continuous basis after their parents¶ divorce. The obligations and rights of both the mother and the father are now governed by a parenting plan which includes a time-sharing schedule. Florida courts today consider 20 factors when setting forth a parenting plan including a time-sharing schedule. The time-sharing schedule specifies when each parent will spend time with his or her children and how transportation of the children will be handled. Following the guidelines set forth in the parenting plan, time-sharing (visitation) may be in the form of a variety of schedules. Common Time-sharing Arrangements in the State of Florida Include: y y Sharing of time spent with the child/children during breaks (periods of dismissal) from school Every-other weekend visitation on the part of the non-custodial parent

y y

y y

Middle-of-the week visitation with the non-custodial parent Alternating years for the spending of holidays with the children, holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year¶s Eve and Day, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah Father¶s day children spend the time with the father and mother¶s day with the mother Spending time with the child on his or her birthday on alternating years

Pre-Trial Mediation Prior to the divorce trial/proceedings occurring, Florida courts will order a pre-trial mediation at which the divorcing couple must try to work out a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule between themselves including the detailed times when the children will be spending time with each parent who takes care of their needs during these times. In certain situations time spent with one parent may be considered dangerous or detrimental to the child/children, but in the majority of cases, the drafting of a time-sharing schedule will ensure that both responsible, loving parents will be able to spend quality parenting time with their children. Relocation Strict laws are in place in the state of Florida regarding relocation. Neither parent is permitted to simply move out of the court¶s jurisdiction along with the children without a court order being issued. Florida law in recent years has become stricter regarding relocation. Today a Florida parent is forbidden without court approval to move with the children more than 50 miles away. Uncontested and Contested Divorce The legal process by which a marriage ends is known as divorce. A marriage is legally dissolved in a divorce proceeding. Issues related to the divorce proceedings include: y y y y y y Time-sharing Parenting plans outlining child custody issues Child support Support of the spouse Property division/distribution Dividing of debts, etc.

Resolving issues such as these can occur by means of the parents¶ voluntary agreement, by formal mediation, or after a trial by order of the court. In an uncontested divorce you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce and related issues. No formal mediation or litigation is needed in this case. Uncontested divorces are finalized more quickly and are much less costly than contested divorces. The expense of hiring

an attorney to help you move through the system efficiently and economically is much less than in a contested divorce situation. In a contested divorce you and your spouse are in disagreement concerning one or more aspects of the divorce settlement. Emotions may have created an atmosphere where you are in no position to carry on a reasonable conversation about your respective positions and what your roles as parents should be. Divorce issues are so significant²time spent parenting your children and providing them proper financial support, for example, that it is extremely important that you hire an attorney experienced in family law. Many family law cases originate when one parent does not allow the other to spend time with his or her child. This violates the time-sharing schedule put in place according to the parenting plan. Recent changes regarding child custody/child visitation issues were brought about as the direct result of Florida courts being inundated with child custody litigation concerning which parent was to be the primary care giver or primary custodian of the child. Secondary child custodians were facing the issue of while caring for their children up to half the time and providing for them economically, they were not receiving the same legal rights to make important decisions for their children and were still forced to pay child support and additional money to care for their children during periods of visitation. New Florida legislation is a step forward. It has modernized the law to fit today¶s family model and to encourage the important parenting roles of both the father and the mother. Contact an Attorney At the law offices of Brian M. Moskowitz, we can help you decide which time-sharing (visitation) arrangement will be best for you, and then we will work to make that arrangement happen. Contact the law offices of Brian M. Moskowitz²family law attorneys serving South Florida. Call us at (561) 369-4481 or fill out our online contact form. These articles are provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Professional legal counsel should be sought for specific advice relevant to your circumstances.

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