In most cases, it is in the best interest of a child to have both parents play an active role in his or her life. Florida lawmakers acknowledged this fact by abolishing traditional forms of custody for a time-sharing approach in 2008. With a time-sharing approach, both parents are active in their child’s life with an agreement that tries to come as close to possible with a 50/50 sharing arrangement. In rare cases, a judge may award sole or primary custody to one parent; however, the circumstances must warrant such an award and the decision must clearly be in the best interest of the child, such as in the case of abuse.
Even though the courts lean toward a 50/50 time-sharing arrangement, there are instances where time-sharing can be modified in favor of one parent or the other.
What is Included in a Time-sharing Agreement?
It is always in the best interest of the child if the parents can work together to establish a time-sharing agreement that works for their family. However, the court will establish an agreement if the parents cannot agree or fail to submit a proposed agreement. At a minimum, every time-sharing agreement should include:
- The times the child will spend with each parent, including provisions for holidays, school vacations, and other significant events;
- Designate which parent is responsible for taking care of matters related to school, health, and extra-curricular activities;
- How the child will communicate with each parent while he or she is with the other parent; and;
- The method the parents will use to communicate in matters regarding the child.
If you or your spouse are contesting a time-sharing arrangement, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney at your side. While courts strive for equal time, Florida law does not guarantee an equal amount of time for each parent.
Obviously, each situation is different. Your situation may not permit an exact 50-50 split in time. The court will consider all factors in determining whether a time-sharing agreement is in the best interest of the child. You must always remember, a time-sharing agreement is not for your benefit, it is for the benefit of your child.
Florida’s Child Support Laws
As with time-sharing agreements, child support is designed to benefit the child. Florida adopted child support guidelines for the calculation of child support. The guidelines are based on the incomes of each parent; each parent’s contributions to health insurance and childcare expenses; and, the number of nights the child spends with each parent.
Information is gathered and put into the formula set by law to arrive at each parent’s financial responsibility. However, if the child spends more than 40 percent of his or her overnights with the non-primary parent, the amount of child support may be reduced.
Each parent has the responsibility to support his or her child financially. However, you should not pay more in child support payments than required by law. Hiring an experienced child support attorney ensures that you are treated fairly under the law.