In Florida, there is no presumption of law that favors either parent in the determination of custody, which is now also called timesharing. Timesharing has replaced the word custody, and the policy of the State of Florida is to eliminate any notion that children “belong” to one parent or the other. No parent is favored over the other at an initial determination as to who will have the most time with the child.
Unless you have harmed the child or the mother, you are on equal footing when the case comes to court, regardless of your child’s age or gender, therefore, it is critical to follow the procedures and processes correctly, as the law is already on your side. The judge or other court appointed official will determine who should have the most timesharing under a variety of factors determined by statute. Those factors include but are not limited to: Who is the friendlier parent, who allows the child to love and respect the OTHER parent; who is has been the primary or main caretaker of the child in the past in terms of feeding, bathing, homework, etc.; who has the most flexible schedule to maximize the parent’s time with the child rather than the child being with other caretakers; and whether either parent has made any false domestic violence or other abuse allegations. Once the court determines who has the timesharing, it can be modified under some conditions, but the courts usually prefer to keep things as stable as possible.
Custody/timesharing is an issue that DADvocacy lawyers have experience with, call our office to see if your case is one we would consider taking on.
SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
Besides the issues of visitation and custody which are both now called Timesharing, the issue of Parental Responsibility must also be addressed by the parents and by the Court. Usually, the judge awards Shared Parental Responsibility to both parties. This means that when it comes to major decisions involving the child, the parents must discuss those issues and keep each other informed. Schooling, religion, medical and other major decisions involving the child must be made together when possible. When parents have a very, very difficult relationship, the Court may order Sole Parental Responsibility or may appoint different areas of decision making to different parents. For example, if the father is a nurse, he may be granted the full power to make decisions over issues related to the child’s medical care, meanwhile the mother, an educator may be granted full power over issues of schooling. As with all aspects of parenting, all matters are reviewed by the judge on a case-by-case basis. An example of a what the Shared Parental Responsibility portion of a court order might look like is below:
A. Each of the parents recognizes the deep love, devotion and dedication of the other to the minor child. Each of the parties also feels that the other party is fully capable and competent to raise the minor child and make a home for said child, where she can grow up in a wholesome, loving and harmonious atmosphere. Each of the parties recognizes that the other has a right to and shall fully participate with the other and with the child in all-important matters pertaining to the child’s health, welfare, education and upbringing. With this in mind, the parties agree that they shall have shared parental responsibility of the minor child and that all decisions regarding health, medical and dental care, education, religious and secular, vacations, travel, summer camp, welfare and upbringing of the child shall be made on a joint-decision making basis.
B. It is understood that some decisions must be on an emergency basis. In such an event, each of the parties acknowledges that they have full confidence in the other’s ability to make a unilateral decision for the child’s welfare which otherwise would be a joint decision of the parties. In the event that a said emergency does arise, the party who is involved in the emergency will contact the other party as soon as is feasible without endangering the safety of the child. The parties shall discuss any non-emergency medical decisions amongst themselves.
C. It is contemplated by this Agreement that the Wife shall be the primary residential parent of the minor children and the Husband shall be the secondary residential parent of the children. As the primary residential parent, the Wife has the authority to make day-to-day decisions as pertains to the child. Further, as the secondary residential parent, the Husband has the authority to make day-to-day decisions as pertains to the child while under his care.
D. Both parties shall be entitled to participate with and attend special activities, sports programs, and other extracurricular activities and important social events in which the child is in or in which they may be engaged or involved. Both parties agree to keep the other party apprised of the occurrence of such events and activities.
E. Both parties shall exercise the utmost of good faith and best efforts at all times to encourage and foster the maximum relations of love and affection between the minor children and her mother and father. Neither party shall in any way, impede, obstruct nor interfere with the exercise by the other of his or her right of companionship with the minor children, as stated in this Agreement, and neither shall, in any manner, disparage nor criticize the other parent nor allow any other person to do so in the presence of the minor children.
F. Each of the parties shall be entitled to complete and detailed information from all physicians, dentists, consultants or specialists attending the minor child for any reason whatsoever and to be furnished with copies of any reports given to one or the other parent. Each shall be entitled to complete and detailed information from all teachers, schools, summer camps or other institutions, which the child may attend or become associated with in any way. Each of the parties shall be furnished with copies of all reports given to the other.
G. Both parties agree that the minor child shall not be known by any other last name than the father’s last name.
H. Both parties agree that the child shall not refer to any other person as “mother” or “father” other than the Petitioner and Respondent herein.
I. The parties shall exchange current addresses, home telephone numbers and work numbers and continue to keep the other reasonably informed as to any changes regarding the provided information.