Florida law says that every parent is entitled to frequent and continuing contact and time-sharing with their children.
All Florida Parenting Plans must include a detailed time-sharing schedule for the parents and the minor children. There is no presumption or favoritism for or against the father or mother. In addition, there is no presumption for or against any specific time-sharing schedule.
Many people believe that time-sharing is required to be 50/50 or equal. That is simply not true and is not supported by any Florida law. Every family is unique. What may work for one family will not necessarily work for another family. The priority of every court judge is establishing a visitation schedule that is in the best interest of the child. It is not a visitation schedule that works best for the parents!
A visitation or time-sharing schedule means a timetable that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent.
If you and the other parent agree to a particular visitation schedule, the court judge has to review it and approve it. This means that if your court judge does not think your time-sharing schedule is in the best interest of your child, they do not have to approve it.
Some mothers of infants believe that the father should not have overnight visitation with their child because men are not equipped or skilled enough to care for an infant. Moreover, some mothers also believe that fathers should not have overnight visitation with their daughters who are under a certain age. Florida law does not support these positions.
Florida law states that a court may not deny a parent overnight contact and access to or visitation with a child solely because of the age or sex of the child.
Some parents also believe that the other parent should not have overnights with their child because he or she does not have a “stable residence” with a separate sleeping area for the child. Florida law states that denying a parent overnight visitation until he or she secures a stable residence with a separate sleeping are for the child is too vague and unnecessarily restrictive.
STANDARD VISITATION SCHEDULES
Because every family is unique, a “standard” visitation schedule does not exist. Now, this does not mean that the particular court judge assigned to your case does not have a standard visitation schedule that he or she prefers to use in most cases. Every court judge is different, so it is imperative that you know who your court judge is and how he or she typically handles visitation schedules.
You might hear or read references to visitation schedules such as:
These are all shorthand ways to describe certain types of visitation schedules. For example, a 2-2-3 schedule is a 50/50 schedule where your child spends 2 days with one parent, 2 days with the other parent and 3 days with the first parent. Then, it switches for the following week.
A 2-2-5-5 visitation schedule is where your child spends 2 days with each parent and then 5 days with each parent.
There are many other effective visitation schedules that may work best for your children.
THIRD PARTY RIGHTS
Grandparents have no contact rights in Florida with very few exceptions.
Some grandparents want custody and visitation in cases where a child is living with them. However, this is unconstitutional and violates a natural parent's fundamental right to raise his or her child.
With a couple of rare exceptions that involved extraordinary circumstances, there are no visitation rights to anyone other than a parent.
VISITATION RESTRICTIONS OR LIMITATIONS
If there is any evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, a court may presume that shared custody and visitation would be harmful to the child.
If your spouse is incarcerated, our court judges must make some provision for visitation.
PICK UP AND DROP OFF (EXCHANGE LOCATIONS)
Some parents are incapable or unable to be civil when exchanging minor children with the other parent. To minimize the ongoing parental conflict, some visitation exchanges with minor children happen in public places, such as fast-food restaurants or grocery stores.
Your circumstance may be such that exchanges at your respective residences will work perfectly well.
FACTORS AFFECTING COURT ORDERED VISITATION
There is a rather long list of factors court judges will consider when awarding custody and visitation as follows:
(a) Demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) Moral fitness of the parents.
(g) Mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) Home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) Reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express preference.
(j) Demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child's friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) Demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) Demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action related to these issues has been brought as evidence of detriment to the child. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) Particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
(p) Demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities.
(q) Demonstrated capacity of disposition of each parent to maintain and environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) Developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
COURT REVIEW OF PARENTS' VISITATION AGREEMENT
A court judge has the ultimate authority to protect the welfare and best interests of minor children and may disregard any agreement of the parents. Any mediation agreement or other agreement involving child support, custody, and visitation that is not in the best interest of the child may be set aside.
If the parents are not in agreement regarding one parent relocating his or her residence more than 50 miles from their current residence, the parent wishing to relocate must file a Petition for Relocation. The Petition must contain certain, specific elements, including a proposal for the revised post-relocation visitation schedule.
CONTACT A SKILLED, AGGRESSIVE, COMPASSIONATE AND EXPERIENCED ORLANDO VISITATION LAWYER TODAY
Starting a divorce can be difficult. Divorce is the second, most stressful event someone will ever experience. It is important to have a guide who can help you identify your rights and responsibilities that you might overlook trying to do it yourself. Having an attorney who focuses their practice 100% on family law and divorce is essential because you need a professional who understands everything about divorce. The anger, the fear, the betrayal, and the anxiety about your financial future.
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