Custody and Time Sharing

What do the terms custody, visitation, time-sharing and parenting plan mean under Florida divorce and paternity law?  Historically Florida was what is considered a “custody” State where in the typical case, one parent was awarded “primary custody” by the Court or by agreement of the parties and the other parent had what was known as “secondary custody”.  In addition, the parties had a set “visitation” schedule with their child or children.

Although § 61.13, Florida Statutes previously contained the term “custody”, that is no longer the case.  In addition, this statute also does not contain the term “visitation”; but instead the Florida Legislature amended this statute to use terms such as “time-sharing” and “parenting plan”.

However, older divorces and paternity cases may still have orders that use the terms custody and visitation. Here at New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. we will file the appropriate pleadings and help you enforce or modify these older orders to obtain the relief which is required.

In amending this statute, the legislature did not like the idea that a parent had “visitation” with his or her child or children.  If you think about it, we visit our neighbors or an out of town family member, but a parent should spend time with his or her child or children.

In addition, there was also a belief amongst judges and attorneys that the parties to a divorce or paternity action were often mainly fighting over which party would be designated as the primary residential parent or the primary custodial parent.

Further, just as there was a stigma attached to being required to visit with your child or children; there was also a stigma with being designated as the “secondary” custodial parent.  The presumed equality of patents in made evident in § 61.13  which states that “It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.”

In Florida cases involving time-sharing with minor children, a “Parenting Plan” is required to be entered by the court.  In order to accomplish consistency throughout the state, the Florida Supreme Court has developed a “Parenting Plan” form which must be followed.

  • 61.13 sets forth approximately twenty different factors which the court is required to consider in determining the best interest of the child. § 61.13 also informs us that the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration in creating the terms of a Parenting Plan. This means that every Florida Parenting Plan should be specifically created in order to meet the needs of each individual child who is the subject of the plan.  Even if the parents agree to a time-sharing schedule, they are still required enter into a Parenting Plan which must then be approved by the court.

At New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. is cognizant of the specific needs of a child or children who are going through the very stressful process of having their parents separate.  In addition, New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. is experienced in evaluating the statutory factors that § 61.13 requires be evaluated in order to create a Parenting Plan that meets the needs of the parents and child.  Our office looks forward to assisting you in your efforts to create an appropriate Parenting Plan and time-sharing schedule.