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Time-Sharing or Child Custody

Child custody, formally called time-sharing in Florida, is a primary concern of divorcing or unmarried parents.  Each parent is concerned about where the child will live, which parent makes important decisions regarding schooling or healthcare, and the amount of access the child will have to each parent. All of these issues and more are resolved in a child custody case.

Child custody is a common term; however, the legal term is time-sharing. In 2008 the Florida legislature replaced the term child custody with the terms time-sharing and parent plan when discussing custody, visitation, and other issues related to the child.

The term child custody implied one parent is the winner and the other is the loser in the dispute. Replacing the term with time sharing and parenting plan increases the chances of collaboration and cooperation between the parents.

West Palm Beach Child Custody Lawyer

The West Palm Beach child custody lawyers at Quality Family Law understand your children are the most important part of your life. Dedicated family law attorneys atQuality Family Law possess the experience and skill to affectively achieve favorable results for you and your family.

From the initial consultation, the attorneys at Quality Family Law will listen to what is important to you and explain the options available, including shared legal custody, shared physical custody, sole legal custody, sole physical custody, or modification. The Quality Family Law is on your side and wants what is in the best interest of your children.

Quality Family Law handles all aspects of family and divorce lawy, including dissolution of marriage, annulment, premarital agreements, child support, and domestic violence,  throughout Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and surrounding areas. Contact the family law attorneys of Quality Family Law at (561) 557-8686 or submit an online form for a confidential consultation.

Florida Child Custody Information Center

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Time-Sharing Arrangements

In Florida there are two types of custody—physical custody and legal custody.

Generally, when parents discuss custody of the child they are referring to physical custody. Physical custody refers to where the child actually resides. It is customary for parents to have joint physical custody of the child, wherein the child will spend equal time with both parents, unless it is not in the best interest of the child.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make decisions regarding the child.

The following are common decisions the parent with legal custody is entitled to make:

  • Medical Decisions- Including the selection of a primary care doctor, specialists, and medical treatments;
  • School Decisions- Including attendance in private or public school, the particular school of attendance, and academic tutoring; and/or
  • Religious Decisions- Including religion or spiritual affiliation of the child; religious instruction; church or place of worship attendance.

There are countless decisions the parent with legal custody is entitled to make. The aforementioned list is non-exhaustive.

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Child Custody Determination

Time-sharing or child custody is an issue that the courts would prefer the parents figure out themselves in a parenting plan. The parenting plan should address all issues regarding child custody and visitation, including the residence in which the child will primarily reside, the school the child will attend, which parent will have the child on specific holidays, and more.

It is widely accepted the child should spend relatively equal time with both parents unless such arrangement is not feasible. Ordinarily, the court will defer to the parenting plan devised by both parents; however, the court will make a determination regarding time-sharing if the parents cannot agree or the agreement is not in the best interest of the child.

The court grants child custody or time-sharing based on the best interest of the child. The court considers the following factors when determining the best interest of the child:

    • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
    • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
    • 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.
    • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
    • 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.
    • The moral fitness of the parents.
    • The moral fitness of the parents.
    • The mental and physical health of the parents.
    • The home, school, and community record of the child.
    • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
    • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
    • 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.
    • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.

The aforementioned list is not exhausted. The court may consider any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

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Parenting Plan and Modification

A parenting plan and time-sharing schedule are the arrangements for child custody and visitation, respectively. At minimum the parenting plan must describe in adequate detail the following:

  • How parents will share and be responsible for daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child;
  • The time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent;
  • A designation of who will be responsible for any and all forms of health care, school-related matters including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration, and other activities; and
  • The methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.

One or both parents can petition the court to modify the parenting plan; however, there must be a showing of substantial, material, and unanticipated change of circumstances. This means that the parenting plan and time-sharing schedule cannot be changed on a whim. Before agreeing to a parenting plan it is important to understand all the terms within the agreement. 

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Parent Relocation

After a time-sharing plan is order (or modified) a parent must receive permission to relocate more than 50 miles from his or her principal residence. The parents may agree to the relocation in writing or the parent seeking location may petition the court for permission. The other parent may object to relocation in writing.

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Quality Family Law ǀ Palm Beach County Time-Sharing Lawyers

The West Palm Beach family and divorce lawyers of Quality Family Law represents parents and families in all family law matters, including time-sharing, modification of the parenting plan, relocation, and child support.

Quality Family Law represents clients throughout Florida, including Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Delray Beach, and more.

Contact Quality Family Law at (561) 557-8686 or submit an online form to schedule a confidential consultation.

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