Parents who have children who are going through a divorce often want to know how much time they should expect to have with their children, and how often they see each parent. For this blog post, we’ll address “timesharing” between parents who are capable, available, and interested in having as much time with their children as they can. Historically, “timesharing” was referred to in Florida as child custody or visitation with children. (Parents who have engaged in detrimental conduct themselves or with their children will be covered in a later post.
To begin, timesharing is about the children enjoying time with their parents. Florida Statute 61.13(2)(c)(1) (2020) states: [i]t is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.” This important language means that courts in Florida are prohibited from, for example, presuming that stay-at-home mothers have an automatic right to more time with their child than a working father does. It also means that there is no standing timesharing schedule – meaning who has the children on which days – that courts are supposed to impose on families. This is because the courts must act only in the children’s best interests, and each child has different needs which should be considered when fashioning a timesharing schedule.
There is no presumption in Florida that each parent is entitled to equal time with or access to their children, but in practicality, an equal timesharing schedule is what is ordered in most cases. But, an equal schedule can take many forms. It can mean that the children are with one parent for a week at a time, switching to the other parent each Sunday. It could mean that the children are with one parent every single Monday and Tuesday, with the other parent every single Wednesday and Thursday, and then the parents alternate who has Friday/Saturday/Sunday with the children (more commonly known as a 2-5-5-2 schedule). It could mean that the children are with parent 1 on Monday/Tuesday, parent 2 for Wednesday/Thursday, parent 1 for Friday/Saturday/Sunday, then to parent 2 for Monday/Tuesday, parent 1 for Wednesday/Thursday, and parent 2 for Friday/Saturday/Sunday (this is a 2-2-3 schedule). For some families, it works better for the children to be with one parent more during the week during the school year, while the other parent makes up that missed time over the summer and during school breaks.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to Florida timesharing. A Board Certified Family Law Attorney like those at YBKG can assist you in making a strategic plan for your divorce, including all of your options for sharing time with your children.