Child Custody

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When you choose to have a child with someone whether you are married or not it comes with a lot of responsibilities. When you live in the same household with someone it is easier to communicate on who gets the kids from school, who drives to soccer practice etc. Holidays are especially great with little kids. When the household gets separated, it is one of the most contentious parts of any divorce or time-sharing agreement. Now we add different houses, jobs, distances etc. Things can get complicated and can result in a lot of disagreements.

From Child Custody to Parenting Plans and Time-Sharing

We all grew up hearing the term “child custody” and primary parent. In 2008 the state removed those terms and went with a more friendly approach to the same hard topic. It is now referred to as a parenting plan and time with the child is time-sharing. While in criminal court it is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in Family Court, it is what is in the best interest of the child. Each child should have both parents involved in their lives. How much involvement is where the fighting begins. Some people want to say 50-50 is what they want because it is their child too, but due to their careers, finances etc. there is no possible way for them to actually devote that much time.

Important aspects to consider with a parenting plan

  • Tax claiming- how often a parent can claim a child for tax purposes.
  • Who will insure the child(ren).
  • How to split up holidays.
  • What school to attend.
  • How far a parent can move.
  • Who makes health care decisions
  • How time is split between the parents
  • Travel and vacations
  • Time with grandparents


Parental Responsibility

The Legislature in Section 61.13, Florida Statutes states that courts shall order parents to share responsibility for a child unless that shared responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Without extreme circumstances most courts order some sort of shared parental responsibility.

How does a court determine the “best interest of the child”

If the parties make an agreement the agreement will be honored (most of the time) however without one the courts will analyze factors which are:

  1. The 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;
  2. The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties;
  3. 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;
  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  5. 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;
  6.  The moral fitness of the parents;
  7. The mental and physical health of the parents;
  8. The home, school, and community record of the child;
  9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference;
  10. The 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;
  11. The 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;
  12. The 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;
  13. Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. 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;
  14. 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;
  15. The 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;
  16.  The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities;
  17. The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse;
  18. The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the 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;
  19. The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs; and
  20. Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.


If you need more information or are ready to file for Time Sharing, and a Parenting Plans

If you are considering a parenting plan and need to speak to an attorney for a free consultation please reach out to Attorney Derek Bernstein via email at or by calling his cellphone at 407-405-4684 to schedule an appointment.

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