Florida law recognizes that children benefit from having frequent and continuing contact with both parents following a divorce. Thus, the standard used when making time-sharing decisions is the best interests of the child. The following is a brief overview of what factors will be considered when determining the child’s best interests.
The parents’ relationship with the child and with each other
When developing a time-sharing plan courts will consider each parent’s ability and willingness to facilitate and encourage their child to have a close relationship to the other parent, as well as each parent’s ability and willingness to follow the time-sharing schedule and be reasonable if the time-sharing plan requires modifications. Another factor is each parent’s demonstrated ability and willingness to put their child’s needs first rather than their own.
The parents’ ability to care for the child
Another factor is the division of parental responsibilities as well as the extent to which each parent needs to delegate these responsibilities, for example, if a working parent needs to place the child in daycare. The child’s developmental needs will also be considered.
Environmental and geographic factors
Courts will consider how long the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and whether it is desirable to keep them in the community they are familiar with. Geographic factors will be considered especially how long it will take for the child to travel between households.
Health and the child’s wishes
Each parent’s health and moral fitness as will the child’s home, school and community record. If the child is of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to state what their preferences are, these preferences will be considered.
Each parent’s involvement in the child’s daily life
Courts will consider each parent’s knowledge of who is involved in the child’s daily life, what the child’s daily activities are and what the child’s favorite things are. Each parent’s demonstrated ability and willingness to ensure the child has a consistent routine will be considered as will each parent’s willingness and ability to keep the other parent informed about the child’s life. The parenting tasks that each parent customarily performed prior to divorce will be considered.
Other factors include whether domestic abuse or neglect is present and each parent’s demonstrated ability and willingness to keep the child’s environment free from drug and alcohol abuse. Finally, each parent’s ability and willingness to protect the child from the divorce litigation process may be considered.
Learn more about time-sharing in Florida
Ultimately this post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on time-sharing may be a useful resource for parents interested in learning more about this topic.