What Parents Should Know About Florida’s Child Time-Sharing Reform
For divorced and separated parents, navigating issues related to child time-sharing is both sensitive and important. Earlier this year, Florida reformed its child time-sharing law. State courts are now required to work from the (rebuttable) presumption that a 50/50 time-sharing split is best. Here, our Lakeland time-sharing attorney provides an in-depth discussion of the key points that divorced and separated parents should know about Florida’s new child time-sharing laws.
The Best Interests of the Child Always Take Priority in Florida
Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 61.13), the primary consideration when determining time-sharing arrangements is the best interests of the child(ren). It has long been the standard in our state and it has not changed under Florida’s recent child time-sharing reform. All courts in Florida handling custody/visitation cases have a central legal duty to ensure that any time-sharing arrangement prioritizes a child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
Understanding the Reform: 50/50 Time-Sharing Presumed Best
What has changed under Florida’s child time-sharing reform? Courts are now required to use a different standard to determine what type of arrangement is actually in the best interest of a child. More specifically, Florida law now requires courts to begin with the presumption that equal time-sharing—meaning 50/50 parenting time—is inherently best for the child. Equal parenting time will be the starting point in any child time-sharing case going forward. Previously, courts were not required to start with a presumption that equal time-sharing is best. Why did Florida make this change? The 50/50 presumption aims to recognize the value and importance of both parents playing an active, consistent role in the life of a child.
Note: The child time-sharing reform in Florida officially took effect in July of 2023.
Equal Parental Time-Sharing is Certainly Not Guaranteed (Rebuttable Presumption)
It is important to clearly emphasize that 50/50 time-sharing is absolutely not guaranteed by Florida law. It will not be granted in every child custody case. While the reform leans towards 50/50 time-sharing as a default starting point, all child time-sharing matters are still evaluated on a case-by-case basis with careful consideration of the specific circumstances. A 50/50 child time-sharing arrangement is a rebuttable presumption. If evidence is presented establishing that a 50/50 arrangement would not be in the child’s best interests, the court can deviate from it. There are many different reasons why a 50/50 time-sharing arrangement may not be appropriate for a specific case, including things like the child’s schooling needs, parental work schedules, and other logistical factors.
Set Up a Confidential Consultation With a Lakeland Child Time-Sharing Lawyer Today
At Darla K. Snead, P.L., our Lakeland family lawyer is committed to protecting the rights and interests of parents. If you have any questions about Florida’s child time-sharing reform, we are here to help. Call us now or connect with us online for a confidential consultation. With a law office in Lakeland, we represent parents in Polk County and throughout the wider region.