Time-Sharing and Parental Responsibility

Decisions about Time-Sharing and Parental Responsibility are based on the best interests of the child, which is the legal standard in Florida in divorce and other family law cases for deciding children's issues. As part of a family law case involving children, the parents or the court will come up with a "Parenting Plan" that addresses Time-Sharing and Parental Responsibility.

Parental Responsibility refers to who has the right to make decisions about the major issues in a child's life - e.g. school, religion, non-emergency medical decisions. The starting or default result is Shared Parental Responsibility, which means both parents have a right to be involved in and to make the decisions. There are some variations, where the parents have to consult but one parent has ultimate decision making authority for all are a particular issue, or one parent can have "Sole Parental Responsibility", based on what's best for the child, if it can be shown that the other parent's involvement in decision making would be detrimental to the child.

Time-sharing is the schedule for when the child spends time with each parent, including how birthdays, holidays and vacations are divided. The Judge can call on experts to advise the court regarding a time-sharing schedule. If there are concerns regarding the safety or welfare of a child, the Judge can limit or restrict time-sharing (e.g. supervised visitation), and can appoint a “Guardian ad Litem” to evaluate the situation and report back to the court.

In addition to a time-sharing schedule, other important issues to focus on, depending on the case, include what are the logistics for pick-ups and drop-off? Can a parent travel out of the state or out of the country with the child? There is a relocation statute in Florida that addresses what happens if a parent wants to move more than 50 miles with the child, but what happens if a parent moves somewhere 20 miles from a current location? Shared parental responsibility requires the parents to agree regarding education, but the School Board could assign the child to a new school depending on which parent's address is being used as the address for school designation. Sometimes the parties are ok with addressing these issues as they arise, but the point is to be sure to address whatever is important to you in the Parenting Plan, and come up with an arrangement that is good for the children and acceptable to both parties.

Many times parents will come to an agreement at some point about parenting and children's issues, but when there are issues regarding the safety or well-being of the children or when no agreement is reached, children's issues can have to be addressed before the court in hearings for temporary orders, or at a trial. I believe my background assists me in litigating these issues when that is necessary. Please see my blog post, for a discussion of emergency orders and emergency hearings for children's issues.

Call me at (954) 636-4798, or use the contact form, and we can discuss the Time-Sharing and Parental Responsibility issues in your case.

Florida Family Lawyer Blog - Time-Sharing & Parental Responsibility