Debunking Common Myths About Timesharing in Florida
In Florida, the legal term “timesharing” refers to the division of time each parent spends time with their child or children. Timesharing ensures children maintain a meaningful and healthy relationship with both parents even after divorce. Parents in Florida sometimes have some preconceived notions regarding timesharing. It is crucial for parents going through a divorce to have accurate information about the laws governing timesharing in Florida and avoid falling for myths. In this article, our Lakeland family lawyer debunks some common myths about timesharing in Florida.
Myth #1: Courts Must Award Parents Equal Timesharing Rights
Florida law does not require family courts to award equal timesharing rights to divorcing parents. Indeed, under the Florida timesharing reform that became effective in July 2023, family courts must operate on the rebuttable presumption that equal timesharing is best for the child. However, because this presumption is rebuttable, equal timesharing is not guaranteed. The courts must thoroughly consider what is in the child’s best interest. Florida courts can order unequal timesharing if a parent presents evidence establishing that a 50/50 timesharing arrangement would not be in the child’s or children’s best interests.
Myth #2: Florida Courts Favor Mothers
Often, fathers are concerned that the court will favor the mother over them. But is this always the case? The truth is that Florida courts do not favor one parent over the other when it comes to timesharing. Florida courts consider several factors when deciding timesharing arrangements. Florida courts make timesharing decisions based on the child’s best interests. Factors to be considered when determining what is best for a child are outlined under Florida Statute 61.13.
Myth #3: Children Can Choose Which Parent They Want To Live With
Children cannot decide which parent they want to live with. However, the court can consider a child’s reasonable preference if the child possesses enough intelligence, experience, and understanding to express a preference.
Myth #4: An Unmarried Father’s Name Must Be on the Birth Certificate for Him To Get Timesharing Rights
An unmarried father’s name need not be on the child’s birth certificate for them to get timesharing rights. To be considered the child’s legal father, thus someone with timesharing rights, an unmarried father needs to establish paternity. In Florida, an unmarried father can establish paternity in several ways. The most common way to establish paternity in Florida is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. Paternity can also be established with a court order.
Myth #5: Sole Parental Responsibility Is Common in Florida
When a parent has sole parental responsibility, they can make decisions on the child’s behalf without consulting the other parent. Sole parental responsibility is only issued in cases where the court determines that shared parental responsibility is detrimental to the child or children. It is not a common occurrence. Examples of reasons the court may approve sole parental responsibility include evidence of neglect, a history of domestic violence, and drug or alcohol abuse.
Contact Our Lakeland Family Lawyer Today
If you are a parent dealing with a divorce and are concerned about timesharing or other divorce-related matters, contact our Lakeland family lawyer at Darla K. Snead, P.L. We are committed to protecting the rights and interests of parents and children.