Time-sharing arrangements, also known as custody arrangements or visitation, are a part of legally binding parenting plans and refer to the schedule and plan that determines how parents share the time and responsibilities for their children after a divorce, separation, or when unmarried parents are no longer living together. These arrangements outline when and where the child will spend time with each parent and address important aspects of their upbringing. Parties can agree on a time-sharing arrangement in a settlement or submit proposed schedules in a trial for the judge or general magistrate to decide. Florida courts emphasize the importance of time-sharing plans that prioritize children’s best interests while supporting ongoing parent–child relationships.
Key Aspects of Time-Sharing Arrangements:
- Custody Types: Time-sharing arrangements can involve different types of custody in Florida known as shared, minority, and majority timesharing (not “custody”) outlined in more detail below.
- Shared Parental Responsibility: With shared parental responsibility, both parties confer together to make those decisions. However, each parent can make day-day-decisions regarding the child. This is the concept that both parents have a say in how the child is raised and must confer with one another on major life decisions. Shared Parental Responsibility is the norm in most cases.
- Minority Timesharing: Responsibilities for minority cases differ from case to case, but minority timesharing refers to the time-sharing arrangement involving less time than then the other parent.
- Majority Timesharing: Responsibilities for majority cases differ from case to case, but majority timesharing refers to the time-sharing arrangement involving more time than then the other parent.
- Parenting Time: The time-sharing schedule outlines when the child will be with each parent, including regular visitation, weekends, holidays, school breaks, and special occasions. It aims to create a stable and predictable routine for the child.
- Parenting Plan: The time-sharing arrangement is often part of a comprehensive parenting plan, which addresses not only the visitation schedule but also issues such as education, healthcare, religious upbringing, communication, and dispute resolution.
- Best Interests of the Child: Courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining time-sharing arrangements. Factors considered include the child’s age, needs, relationship with each parent, stability, and the parents’ ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment.
- Flexibility and Modifications: Time-sharing arrangements may need to be adjusted over time due to changes in the child’s needs or the parent’s circumstances. Courts may approve modifications to the arrangement when necessary and when it serves the child’s best interests.
- Legal Assistance: Determining time-sharing arrangements can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. Parents are encouraged to seek legal counsel to ensure their rights and the child’s interests are adequately protected during the negotiation or court process.
It’s important to note that time-sharing arrangements are highly individualized and can vary widely based on the unique circumstances of each family. The goal of these arrangements is to support the child’s well-being, provide consistency, and allow both parents to maintain a meaningful and positive relationship with their child.