The following is the second part of a 4 part series from Fletcher and Phillips, Florida Timesharing and Child Custody Attorneys:
- Is Fifty-Fifty Timesharing about to be the Norm in Florida?
- SENATE BILL 250 – EQUAL TIMESHARING BETWEEN PARENTS
- SENATE BILL 668 COMBINES ALIMONY & FIFTY-FIFTY TIMESHARING SCHEDULE
- Florida Divorce Attorneys: SENATE BILL 668 vs. SENATE BILL 250
PRESUMPTION OF APPROXIMATELY EQUAL TIMESHARING BETWEEN PARENTS
If approved, Senate Bill 250’s new uniformed timesharing schedule would take effect on October 1, 2016. There are four (4) main goals of this bill:
1. creating a presumption that approximately equal time-sharing by both parents is in the best interest of the child;
2. revising a finite list of factors that a court must evaluate when determining whether the presumption of approximately equal time-sharing can be overcome;
3. requiring a court order to be supported by written findings of fact if any other schedule besides approximate equal timesharing is ordered; and
4. Codifying the already existing case law principle that modification of a determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time- sharing schedule can only occur upon a determination that such modification is in the best interest of the child and upon a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances.
If Senate Bill 250 becomes law, then “approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is presumed to be in the best interest of the child.” Actual equal timesharing is close to impossible since there are an odd number of days in a year. Examples of fifty-fifty timesharing, none of which are listed in Senate Bill 250, include (1) one week with first parent and the next week at the second parent, (2) one day with the first parent and the next day with the second parent, or (3) four days with first parent, then three days with the second parent, then four days with the second parent, and three days with the first parent.
Not every mother or father can accommodate approximate equal timesharing. In order to overcome the presumption of approximate equal timesharing, the court must evaluate the legislature’s finite list of factors. Those factors include:
1. The demonstrated capacity or 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.
2. The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
3. 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.
4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
5. 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 carry out the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
6. The moral fitness of the parents.
7. The mental and physical health of the parents.
8. The home, school, and community record of the child.
9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to
be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express
10. The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, or 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.
11. The demonstrated capacity or disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
12. The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with the other parent 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. The demonstrated capacity or disposition of each parent to perform or ensure the performance of particular parenting tasks customarily performed by the other 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.
16. The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
17. The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
18. 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.
19. The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
20. The amount of time-sharing requested by each parent.
21. The frequency that a parent would likely leave the child in the care of a nonrelative on evenings and weekends when the other parent would be available and willing to provide care.
22. Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.