Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.
Child time-sharing plans (visitation plans) are applied differently throughout Florida. Some courts have taken the time-sharing law that replaced visitation in 2007, to mean that children should spend equal times with each parent. In Jacksonville and the northeast Florida region, the courts often try to steer away from a 50/50 time-sharing plan because it is not felt to be in the best interest of the children. However, many central and south Florida courts have interpreted the language to mean that the parents should have equal time. The Florida Supreme court rendered an opinion on the statute saying that the measure is still best interest of the children and the starting point is not intended to be a 50/50 visitation split. So, what if you have 50/50 time-sharing and as the kids grow older you realize that they are nor doing as well on such a schedule?
Time-sharing plans can be modified using the beat interest of the child as a measuring tool for a substantial change. If the children are not functioning well in school, feel stressed or emotional due to the division, or are simply not adapting well, then the court may establish a different time-sharing plan. The parties may also agree on a division they think is better for the kids and that plan can be entered with the court.
When thinking of a time-sharing plan, it is important to think of the child’s school and extra curricular activities. If the kids have friends in one parent’s neighborhood and not the other, then their social life is changed with each house switch. Keep these things in mind when deciding on a visitation/time-sharing schedule because ultimately the kids need to be happy and able to function at school and in their family time.
If you are going through a divorce or paternity case it is important to speak with a lawyer that can explain your rights and options in developing a time-sharing plan.