Very few things are ever truly permanent in a child custody case. That means a timesharing schedule, like child support or parental responsibility, is subject to change or modification.
That being said, Florida courts do consider stability to be important for young children. So, there are hoops to jump through and elements that have to be proven before a court will agree to modify a timesharing schedule.
First, you have to show the court that there has been a substantial change in any circumstances that led to the timesharing schedule already in place.
But not just any change in circumstances will do – it has to be a change in circumstances that is substantial, material, and unanticipated at the time that the current timesharing schedule was established.
Finally, you have to prove to the court that your proposed change or modification is in the best interests of the children or child.
If and when you are able to satisfy all of these requirements, you will have a much better chance of convincing the court in your case to modify your existing timesharing schedule.
The short answer is no. One parent does not have the authority to withhold court-ordered timesharing from the other parent.
Some people mistakenly believe that timesharing can be denied to a parent who has failed to pay child support. This is not true. Florida statutes specifically make clear that the failure to pay child support is not a justification for the denial of timesharing rights.
Any parent who refuses to comply with a court-approved timesharing schedule may be in contempt of court and can be punished with a monetary fine and/or incarceration.
Not only that, but Florida courts have the ability to compensate a parent who has been wrongfully denied court-ordered timesharing by awarding that parent what we call make-up timesharing.
You cannot get joint custody in Florida because joint custody doesn’t actually exist anymore. Florida statutes officially abolished the entire concept of child custody back in 2008.
That change in the law wiped terms like sole custody, shared custody, and joint custody from the books.
But it is still possible to get what we call shared parental responsibility instead. Shared parental responsibility is a lot like the old concept of joint custody.
Under shared parental responsibility, both the mother and father of minor children retain their full parental rights. That means each parent must confer with the other before making important child-related decisions. The parents share responsibility for their children, so they have to work together.
Florida courts like shared parental responsibility. There is a presumption in favor of it. That means shared parental responsibility is the most likely outcome of any child custody case unless there is evidence that such an arrangement would be harmful to the child.
So, if the parents have a reasonably good relationship with each other, if they are able to communicate with one another effectively, and each parent is deemed to be a fit parent, Florida courts will almost always award them shared parental responsibility.
There is no such thing as sole custody in Florida. The entire concept of child custody was eliminated by statute several years ago. That means Florida no longer uses terms like sole custody and joint custody in child-related cases.
There is, however, a legal concept in Florida law known as sole parental responsibility.
Sole parental responsibility is similar to sole custody in that it gives one parent the ability to make important decisions about things like healthcare, education, and religion without consulting the other parent.
So, while no parent gets sole custody in Florida anymore, you can accomplish many of the same goals through sole parental responsibility if you can prove that the other parent is unfit or that it is impossible for you to co-parent.
For example, if you can show that there is a history of domestic violence or child abuse, or that the other parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol, a Florida court could and likely would award you sole parental responsibility.
A parenting plan is a written document that governs both the parent-child and parent-to-parent relationships in cases involving child custody. You can think of it as a blueprint for a successful timesharing and co-parenting relationship.
Florida statutes make parenting plans mandatory in every case where the care and custody of a minor child are concerned.
Parenting plans can be established by court order or the parents can agree on a parenting plan between themselves. Either way, at a minimum, parenting plans must include a statement on parental responsibility, a timesharing schedule, and a designation of which parent’s address should be used for school registration purposes.
A timesharing schedule is a written plan that outlines the specific days that each parent is entitled to spend time with his or her children or child.
A timesharing schedule is mandatory in every court-approved parenting plan. However, there is no presumption for or against one particular timesharing schedule over another under Florida statutes.
For example, you could have a timesharing schedule that gives each parent equal timesharing with the children or child. Or, one parent can have majority timesharing with the other parent getting physical custody of the children or child every other weekend.
The bottom line is that both parents and the courts are free to construct any timesharing schedule that fits the circumstances of a particular case as long as the schedule allows both parents frequent and meaningful timesharing with the children or child.
In child custody cases, joint custody, sometimes known as shared custody, is a legal term used to describe the division of rights and responsibilities between the parents of minor children.
There are two basic components to joint custody – joint legal custody and joint physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions about child-related issues like education, religion, or healthcare; likewise, physical custody generally refers to which parent the child resides with on a day-to-day basis.
Unlike sole custody, where one parent has exclusive authority, joint custody requires parents to consult with each other and to work together.
In true joint custody arrangements, the parents have an equal say in making decisions that affect the child, and the child spends an equal amount of time residing with both parents.
As an example, if two divorced parents have joint legal custody of their daughter, both parents must work together to reach an agreement as to where the child should go to school. If the parents have joint physical custody, they may also have a parenting plan that allows the child to live with each parent one week or one month at a time.
Florida courts do not use the term joint custody in any official way. Instead, Florida uses similar concepts called timesharing and parental responsibility to achieve many of the same goals.
The overall concept of parental responsibility in Florida can be defined as the combination of rights and duties that each parent has when it comes to his or her children.
There are two basic categories of parental responsibility: shared parental responsibility where both parents work together; and sole parental responsibility where one parent makes decisions on his or her own.
One thing to keep in mind is that parental responsibility is completely separate and distinct from the concept of visitation or timesharing, as it’s known in Florida.
Shared parental responsibility is the most common parenting arrangement in Florida. Under shared parental responsibility, both parents retain their full parental rights.
This means that the parents of minor children share equally in the joys and challenges that come with parenthood. That includes working together to make major child-related decisions about important issues like religion, healthcare, and education.
Alternatively, the court in a child custody case might decide that one parent is better equipped to make certain decisions than the other parent is for whatever reason. In those cases, the court can establish a modified version of shared parental responsibility, called shared parental responsibility with decision-making authority.
Under this modified arrangement, both parents are still required to consult with one another before making any major decisions. But, if they are ultimately unable to agree on a decision, one parent is given the final say on how to proceed.
All things being equal, Florida courts greatly prefer shared parental responsibility over something like sole parental responsibility.
Sole custody is a legal term that refers to the ability of one parent to make child-related decisions alone without consultation with or interference from the other parent.
For example, a parent with sole custody has the exclusive authority to make decisions about where the child goes to school, what extracurricular activities the child should participate in, and whether a particular form of medical treatment should be administered to the child.
The major benefit of sole custody is that the parent who has physical custody of the child can make both major and day-to-day decisions on his or her own without the other parent’s consent.
Sole custody is extremely useful in cases where the parents are unable to communicate with each other effectively, where there is a history of domestic violence or child abuse, or where the noncustodial parent can be considered an unfit parent due ongoing drug or alcohol abuse.
Although Florida courts do not use the term sole custody, Florida does have the concept of sole parental responsibility, which is very similar.
That said, it’s important to remember that both sole custody and sole parental responsibility primarily refer to decision-making authority. They do not necessarily have any impact on visitation. The court must usually enter a separate timesharing order to address issues related to physical custody.
Sole parental responsibility is one of the two primary categories of parenting arrangements used by Florida courts, with the other being shared parental responsibility.
A parent with sole parental responsibility has the exclusive authority to make decisions about important child-related issues like healthcare, education, and religion.
That means he or she does not have to confer with the other parent on these matters before making decisions.
Florida courts rarely award sole parental responsibility in a child custody case because, all things being equal, their preference is for both parents to work together.
That said, sole parental responsibility could be appropriate in cases where there is a history of domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, or where there is evidence that the parents are simply unable to work together.
When the Florida statutes abolished the related concepts of custodial parents and noncustodial parents in 2008, the concept of visitation was also eliminated.
Now, instead of visitation, we use the term timesharing to describe each parent’s right to physical custody of his or her minor children or child.
In other words, timesharing refers to the designated time that parents spend with their children whether that is as a result of a court order an agreement between both parents.
It is Florida’s stated public policy that each parent should have frequent and meaningful timesharing with his or her children.
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