Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.
As a Jacksonville attorney handling time-sharing issues with a client comes second nature since I grew up in such an environment. For family law clients, dividing holidays, birthdays, and vacations are a concern as they go through a divorce or paternity action. Florida requires parents to file a parenting plan that defines the time-sharing (visitation) plan they will follow. In Jacksonville, Florida, we have the 4th Judicial Circuit Visitation Guidelines, which were designed by the court to make division of time easier on parents when they cannot reach an agreement. Since the parenting plan became a necessity, the guidelines lay out an idea for parents, but are no longer simply followed by the Court, however, they are generally going to be the minimum time-sharing imposed on the parties.
The Florida Parenting and Time-Sharing Plan allows parents to design their visitation plan, but also provides guidelines for handling the needs of the children as they get older. According to the guideline times-haring in Jacksonville and surrounding areas, holidays are divided by even and odd numbered years. However, the parents can develop a different plan if they prefer and can agree otherwise.
When dealing with visitation issues, it is important to keep the needs of the children in the forefront of the conversation. As children get older they will be involved in more activities so being flexible, even to the plan created, is always a good starting point to avoid conflicts over the years. Decide early on that make-up timesharing may be necessary because life will happen and weekends, holidays, etc. may have to be alternated.