How Should Parenting Time Be Divided?
Children face physical and emotional upheaval when their parents divorce. Even in the most peaceful of separations, the previously unified home of a child becomes divided when parents split up. In order to preserve the mental and physical well-being of children of divorce, Florida law holds the best interest of the child as the core of all decisions related to support and time sharing.
Determining the best interests of the child
The best interest of the child is a broad definition. For the purpose of understanding the legal process, here are some indicators the court uses to determine how much time a child should spend with each parent:
- Relationship with each parent — particularly if one parent has been absent from the child’s life for any significant period of time
- Ability to provide for the child — both monetarily and in terms of emotional and psychological care
- Parents’ work schedules — if one parent is significantly more or less available, works in shifts or travels for work
- Proximity of each parent to child’s school and community — if one parent has relocated outside of the school district
- Relationship among siblings — if older siblings choose to live with one parent and the younger desires to stay with the siblings
- Living conditions of each parent — if one parent’s lifestyle is significantly more or less child-friendly or appropriate
- Child’s preference — when the child is of an age and maturity level to voice a preference
During the divorce process, the parents might not be able to accurately perceive what is in their child’s best interest and what is their own personal, emotional struggle. If the parents, their attorneys and the family court judge are not able to decide the issues of shared parenting solely on the information available through the parents, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem — a trained, objective third party — to observe and interview both parents and children and make a recommendation to the court.
If you anticipate a time-sharing battle in your divorce, you need a divorce attorney on your side who knows the law and is willing to advocate for you and your children.