Child Visitation in Sarasota Florida

TIME-SHARING/VISITATION/CUSTODY

For any parent going through divorce, their primary concern is time-sharing, visitation, or custody.  While many other states commonly refer to the determination of where a child will reside as custody, Florida does not use that term.  A “Time-sharing schedule” is defined in Florida Statute 61.046 as a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent.

Parenting plan” means a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being.

In creating the parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.  A determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to:
(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child,  including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were  undertaken by third parties.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

It will be your family attorney’s responsibility to explain these factors to you and to help you present your case to the judge while keeping these factors in mind.

Through the divorce process, the parents will either agree to a permanent parenting plan, or the court will order one upon finalizing the divorce. Parenting plans do not just include time-sharing, as stated above, they encompass all aspects of child raising including decision making for schooling, religion, holidays, vacations, medical needs and extra-curricular activities.

In certain cases it may become necessary to address time-sharing in the early stages of the case.   Under these cases, it may be necessary to have your attorney seek a temporary parenting plan.  It is important for the children to have continued contact with both parents during the divorce process.  There is a standard court order that is filed in every family law case ordering the parties to continue to foster a relationship with both parents.  This includes time-sharing, communication, and a provision discouraging the disparagement of the other parent.   If one party is unable to abide by the standard order, it may be necessary to seek a temporary parenting plan or even seek to have that party held in  contempt of court.

CHILD SUPPORT

Child support will also be addressed in the divorce proceedings. Child support is simply a mathematical formula based on each party’s individual income, child related expenses and the number of time-sharing overnights in the parenting plan. The numbers are inputted into a spreadsheet or software used to calculate the amount of support taking the parameters set forth in the Florida Statutes into account.  It is not generally a negotiable amount as it is solely based on the formula enacted by the State of Florida.  A family law lawyer can assist you in determining what should be included as income and expenses in your financial affidavit so that your child support is accurately calculated.

MODIFICATIONS

Parenting Plan.

In order to modify an existing parenting plan, the moving party must show a substantial change in circumstance.  The court will review any changes that may affect one parent’s ability to comply with the current parenting plan.  If appropriate the court can modify that parenting plan and reduce or increase time-sharing or simply modify the time-sharing schedule.  Contact the family law lawyers at Coyne Law for a free consultation to learn whether you may be able to obtain a modification of your existing order.

Child Support.

In order to modify an existing child support order, the moving party must show a substantial change in circumstance.  Involuntary changes in employment may be sufficient to warrant a reductions just as an unexpected increase in the other party’s income may warrant an increase in child support.  Contact the family law lawyers at Coyne Law for a free consultation to learn whether you may be able to obtain a modification of your existing order.

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