Timesharing is the right of the minor child for frequent and continuing contact with the parents, not the parents’ right to see the child. It is, for this reason, the concept of doing away with primary and secondary custody and replacing this with parental timesharing, the main part of shared parenting, was instituted. Most states embrace parental timesharing, including Florida. It is still possible to have sole custody of a minor child in Florida if a parent is in jail, has been convicted of child abuse or domestic violence, is on drugs, or is mentally, emotionally, or physically incapable of caring for a minor child. These conditions will, of course, need to be proven to the satisfaction of the court. It is interesting to note that parents do not have to be married or even have lived together to be subject to timesharing obligations. However, in Florida, an unmarried father does not immediately gain rights the same as a married father. Even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, the unmarried father must have a court order to have rights to his child. There is a legal procedure the unmarried father must go through, including a paternity test involving DNA, to obtain court-ordered rights.
What are timesharing rights? As mentioned, in Florida, child custody and visitation has primarily been replaced by shared parenting, which includes timesharing. Florida Family Law supports the phrase “in the best interest of the child,” which lends itself to the idea that a child is best raised and nurtured by both parents, equally sharing the responsibility. Whenever possible, the living or overnight arrangements for a minor child will be divided evenly. A schedule will be set up as part of the Florida court requirement for parents to draw up a parenting plan. Usually, children will spend an equal amount of time at each parent’s home during a week, with special considerations on holidays, birthdays, and Mother’s and Father’s Day. Sometimes other arrangements are ordered, such as alternative weeks or months or six months at each home. What works best for the child will be the bottom line.
Along with the actual amount of time spent with a minor child, the timesharing order will include the fact that major decisions in the areas of education, medical, religion, and discipline are to be made by both parents deciding together. This, of course, is sometimes difficult, but if one or the other parent refuses, he or she can be taken back to court where a contempt ruling may be handed down with possible consequences.
As indicated in the first sentence, children in the state of Florida are to have the right to spend time with both their parents. It is hoped that parents will realize the tremendous effect their involvement with their children would have on their child’s well-being. It is not a child’s fault the parents can no longer be together, and the child loves and needs each parent whether the parents are together or not. If you have questions about timesharing in Florida and live in Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami Dade, Orange; or Hillsborough County, Family Law Attorney Grand Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation. At this time, he will answer your questions and share with you how he can help with timesharing issues you may have. Please call his office at (561) 530-4569 to schedule an appointment. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and, for new clients, on Saturday from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM.