In Florida, the term “child custody “ has been replaced with the term “timesharing”. The word “custody” implies that one parent will have superior parental rights over the children and previously there was a “primary residential” parent. However, in Florida, these terms are no longer used. This is because the term “timesharing” more accurately reflects the public policy in the State of Florida that both parents should share time with their children on a frequent and constant basis. There is no preference for the Mother over the Father or vice versa. With that being said, Florida law requires that a judge establish a timesharing schedule for the parents that is in the minor children’s best interest. In addition to a timesharing schedule, a judge will also determine which parent will make all major decision regarding the minor children.
Depending on the participate facts of the case, the parents will have shared parental responsibility over all decisions regarding the minor children (both parents will confer and make the decisions jointly), a parent will have sole parental responsibility (one parent will have the right to make decisions regarding the minor child) or the parents will have shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision-making authority to one parent over all major decision regarding the minor children or over specific decisions. Unless the parents agree on a timesharing schedule or on the issue of parental responsibility, a judge will make this determination based on a list of statutory factors.
Many times in contested timesharing or parental responsibility cases, we recommend that a Guardian Ad Litem or social investigator be appointed or that home studies, drug and alcohol testing or psychological evaluations be performed to ensure that all issues are properly presented and considered by the Court. With over 40 years of combined family law experience, our first step in this process is to discuss your concerns, facts of your case, and your desired outcome to plan our course of action and the appropriate legal strategy for you.