Time-Sharing Guidelines in Florida
West Palm Beach Custody Lawyer
A recent overhaul of Florida law included the introduction of parenting plans, which are agreements mandated by the court as a part of any custody proceeding. Among other things, parenting plans must include information regarding who will provide healthcare and transportation for the child, as well as who will be responsible for child support. In order for a parenting plan to be considered valid, it must also include a time-sharing schedule. If parents mutually agree to a predetermined visitation schedule, they can save thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and the emotional toll that such battles entail. For this reason, it is imperative that, if you are considering a divorce and have children with your spouse, contact an experienced West Palm Beach custody lawyer immediately.
Courts have indicated that time-sharing schedules should include the following information:
- An everyday schedule that shows which parent is responsible for the child on weekdays and weekends;
- A holiday schedule that shows which parent the child is staying with for the holidays; and
- A summer break schedule.
Florida courts encourage parents to work together in creating a schedule. If parents are unable to agree, however, a court will appoint a parenting coordinator to help the process move more smoothly. If a couple is still unable to come to an agreement, the court will make its own time-sharing schedule on the parents’ behalf.
Court-Mandated Time-Sharing Schedules
While there is no official standard for time-sharing schedules in Florida, many courts use the following guidelines to establish a schedule for parties who cannot agree. For time schedules intended for local parties, the child will visit the non-residential parent:
- One evening during the week, from after school or work to 8:30 p.m.; and
- Every other weekend from Friday, after school or work, to Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. or when school starts on Monday.
- Additionally, courts will split time equally between the parents for major holidays like Easter and Christmas, and also for birthdays and summer vacation.
When the time-sharing is taking place on a long-distance basis, the non-residential parent is entitled to the following minimum time-sharing responsibilities:
- Alternating weekend time-sharing near the residential parent’s residence. If this is not possible, the non-residential parent is permitted to have weekend timesharing at least once a month. It will begin at 5:00 p.m. on the day before the three-day weekend or on Friday and end at 5:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes;
- Holidays and summer timesharing are also divided equally; and
- When the children are with one parent, the other is entitled to communicate with the children by phone. The default, in the event that the parents cannot agree on a time or duration, is Thursday and Sunday between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
When parents have agreed to shared parental responsibility of the children, time with each parent is split equally throughout the week. Because children will be traveling much more in this scenario, both parents must create similar environments in their homes to help maintain a sense of stability. For instance, both parents must make an effort to ensure that:
- Similar bedtimes and sleeping arrangements are made for the children;
- Meals and eating times are similar; and
- Homework schedules, recreation, and other activities are similar.
If you are considering a divorce and have questions about child custody issues, an experienced attorney can help you find the solution that is best for all parties involved. Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.