For the most part, Florida has shied away from the concepts of “custody” in its family law rules and statues. However, this doesn’t mean that such instances do not exist. Florida does advocate for “Time- sharing”. With “Time-sharing” each parent is expected to enjoy a certain amount of time with the child. It could be during daytime, nighttime or during the holidays as long as the child gets to benefit from time spent with both parents.
A primary residential parent is determined and designated in addition to determining which of the parents will have sole responsibility when it comes to decision making on things such as school, education and religion in the child’s life.
Florida Law appreciates that each child deserves the right to spend time with both parents which is why the law is clear in this regard.
According to the Florida Time-Sharing statute in Section 61.13(2)(c)(1), each child deserves the right to have as much time and contact with both parents in the event of a divorce or separation. Parents are encouraged to share in the rights and responsibilities that revolve around the child. The statue doesn’t make any assumptions for or against the amount of time that the child will spend with each parent. That being said however, the ultimate decision as to time-sharing will be based on the child’s best interests.
According to Section 61.13(2)(c)(3), 20 factors are listed which help the court determine the time- sharing issue. The first listed factor is the parents’ ability to participate in the time-sharing process. Each parent’s capacity to share and encourage sharing the child with regard to the other parent is put into consideration. This way, the child’s best interest is always a priority. The parents’ demonstrated capacity to follow a given time-sharing schedule is put into consideration. In addition, the parents’ ability to adapt to changes in the schedule or be reasonable about said changes is also put into consideration.
On the flip side though, much as time-sharing is encouraged, a given parent’s ability to safely interact with the child is also considered. For example, if a parent is unable to safely interact with the child due to issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence or any other issues that may cause chaos in the child’s life then the court will reserve the right to restrict contact with the given parent or where need be require supervision when the child is in the presence of the parent in question. There are also instances when interaction between parent and child may be stopped completely if the child’s safety is at risk.
When it comes to supervised visitation, the level of supervision may vary depending on set circumstances. The supervision may be carried out by a family member or a licensed therapist or any ideal person in between. When it comes to parental responsibility, according to section 61.13(2)(c)(2) of the Florida statute, shared parental responsibility is greatly encouraged. With shared parental responsibility both parents
get to play a hand in things such as which school the child will attend, what religion the child will follow and what education the child should get among others. In other words, both parents get to play a hand in the child’s general welfare. However, in the event that shared parental responsibility may be detrimental to the child’s wellbeing then court determines who gets the lion’s share of the responsibility. With shared decision making, both parents are supposed to communicate and determine what best suits the child.
One of the major factors that the court considers when it comes to parental responsibility or time sharing is domestic violence