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We Are Your Legal Guide to Child and Family Matters

Timesharing for the Well- Being of Your Children

It used to be, in Florida, that child custody included words like “primary” and “secondary” parenting. However, a few years ago, the Florida legislature made some changes to the law in an attempt to soften the legal terms and make the divorce and related child support and custody proceedings less adversarial. Thus, no longer is there a primary parent and a secondary parent. Parents now are considered to be equal co-parents to their children, in fact, instead of child custody, you now will hear words to describe custody, such as “timesharing,” “parenting plans,” and “shared parental responsibility,” and parents must place the needs and interests of the children ahead of their own desires.

A Parenting Plan is a Guide for all Child Related Responsibilities

A parenting plan is the legal document, in which the timesharing, holidays, medical decisions and other significant matters related to children are set out and then court-ordered. The Florida courts encourage parents to work together in creating this parenting plan and sometimes the parents may seek the assistance of not only attorneys but mental health professionals to create a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests. If the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, the court will hear testimony and make the determination for you. In doing so, the court considers many factors and weighs the evidence on those factors in favor of or against one or the other parent. A few examples of these are the physical and mental health of each parent, their criminal history, the occurrence of domestic violence, which parent encourages and fosters the love and relationship of the children with the other parent, the preference of the children if they are of an age to express such a preference and the ability of each parent to provide a stable home environment.

The court may consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parties based on the best interests of the child. . The “best interests of the child” is a legal term and the guiding principle in most all child-related matters in the Florida courts. This could include one parent taking responsibility for the child’s education, health care and any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a particular family. Though it happens very infrequently, the court also has the authority to grant sole custody to one or the other parent if it is found to be in the best interests of the child. The reasons for a court to award sole parental responsibility are very limited and are on a case by case basis. Regardless of the difficulties of co-parenting, children have the right to have a meaningful and loving relationship with both parents. Parental alienation has long lasting, detrimental effects on the mental health and well-being of children.

Sandra K.Ambrose, P.A. Can Handle All of your Family Law Matters

To discuss the particulars of your case and how we may be able to assist you in matters involving your children during and after the divorce process, please contact Ambrose Family Law today to schedule a consultation with an attorney. Call today at (407) 388- 8740.