Divorce and Minor Children

Parental Responsibility and Timesharing

Florida family law has replaced the term 'custody' with the idea of 'time-sharing' and 'parental responsibility'. 


When you file a family case in Florida court, courts are responsible for establishing a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule, parental responsibility and Child Support before entering a final judgment.


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Florida family law has replaced the term 'custody' with the idea of 'time-sharing' and 'parental responsibility'. When you file a family case in Florida court, courts are responsible for establishing a time-sharing schedule, parental responsibility and Child Support before entering a final judgment.


Florida family courts favor the best interest of the children when establishing a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule.  Learn more about the Best Interest of the Children.


Time-sharing schedule is a timetable that must be included in a Parenting Plan, that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent.  If developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child or children, it must be approved by the court.  If the parents cannot agree, the schedule will be established by the court in accordance to Florida Statute.


Parental Responsibility includes all the rights and responsibilities a parent or parents have for the welfare of their child or children.  Parental responsibility includes but is not limited to, major decision making regarding the child's education, religion, and medical care. 

Parental Responsibility

Shared Parental Responsibility

The Florida Family Courts show preference for shared parental responsibility (joint legal custody). Divorce laws specifically state:


"It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or divorce, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities and joys of child rearing. After considering all relevant facts, the father of the child shall be given the same consideration as the mother in determining the primary residence of a child, irrespective of the age or sex of the child."

Whether you are married or divorced, you have a responsibility to make decisions in yourchild's or children's best interest. This is known as "parental responsibility," and shared parental responsibility is ideal. However, sole parental responsibility is sometimes a necessary reality. 

Both Parents Being Responsible

Even if one parent is designated the primary residential parent and gets to spend more time with your children, the non-custodial parent typically has equal parenting rights and is equally entitled to be consulted on all decisions for the children. I encourage you to take an active role in the lives of your children. Divorce can do too much damage for one parent to disappear from their kids' lives, and children need to have a positive relationship with BOTH parents. Did you know it is your former spouse's duty to foster a positive relationship between you and your children?
more on Shared Parental Responsibility. 

Sole Parenting as a Necessary Option

When violence, a criminal history, neglect, or other similar factors put children in danger or at risk of detriment, sole parental responsibility may be in the children's best interest. In such circumstances, the court has the authority to make only one parent responsible for child-related decisions and upbringing. 

Mediating Shared Parenting and Time-Sharing

Mediation can be an effective tool in resolving divorce-related matters, particularly those that involve your children. You can take control of the decision-making process and not wait for the sound of the judge's gavel. 

Parenting Plan and Time-Sharing Schedule

What is a Parenting Plan?

Parenting Plan is a document created to govern the relationship between the parties relating to  the decisions that must be made regarding the minor child(ren). The Parenting Plan shall contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child(ren) and shall address the issues concerning the minor child(ren). The issues concerning the minor child(ren) may include, but are not limited to, the child(ren)’s education, health care, physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the Plan, all circumstances between the parties, including the parties’ historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration. The Parenting Plan shall be developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by a court, or if the parents cannot agree, established by the court. 

Florida family laws require courts to establish a parenting plan in cases involving minor children.  A parenting plan addresses:

  • details about how parents will share daily tasks associated with the upbringing of a child or children
  • a time-sharing schedule that will specify the time the child or children will spend with each parent
  • Designation of who will be responsible for health care, school related matters, and other activities
  • and how and when parents may communicate with each other and with the child or children.

Florida Family Statutes designed to favor the best interest of the child, including shared parental responsibility.


When Florida family Courts establish or modify a parental responsibility or a time-sharing schedule, courts consider a number of best interest of the child factors.


Florida public policy is to encourage each parent to share parental responsibility and time-sharing.  See Visitation Guidelines.


In some cases, it is possible to reach an agreement on time-sharing and parental responsibility (generally called 'Uncontested' case). Whether the time-sharing schedule and parental responsibility is agreed to by the parties, or Court ordered, a Parenting Plan is the document which governs the relationship between the parties relating to decisions that must be made regarding the Minor Child, and a time-sharing schedule.
Family law attorney Christophe Fiori works closely with clients to achieve the best possible results when obtaining a court ordered parenting plan.  Call for a free consultation (888) 384-2872.


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Suggested Time-sharing Guidelines for Parents

The behavior of parents has a great influence on the emotional adjustment of their children. This is equally true after the dissolution of marriage. The following guidelines have been found to be helpful in achieving meaningful timesharing:

  1. Remember to put your children’s welfare first—try to see that their emotional needs are met and that they have an opportunity to develop as “normally” as possible under the circumstances.
  2. Timesharing with the other parent, normally and under the proper circumstances, is needed and helpful to your children’s development and future welfare.
  3. Timesharing should be pleasant, not only for the children but for both parents. Timesharing should help your children maintain a positive relationship with both parents.
  4. Parents often ask whether it is okay to take the children to a new girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s house, especially during the duration of the proceedings. Timesharing should be a time for the parent and the children to be with each other, to enjoy each other and to maintain positive, steady and strong relationships. Having other people participate may dilute the parent-child experience during timesharing. Also, it may appear to the children that the parent does not care enough to provide undivided attentio n during timesharing. However, when other people are brought into social contact with the children in a healthy and suitable environment, it can be beneficial to them. Accordingly, you must exercise sound discretion and judgment in each situation, while always maintaining the best interests of the children as the primary criterion for your actions and conduct.
  5. Keep your timesharing schedule if at all possible. Inform the other parent, in advance, when you need to change the schedule and, if possible, arrange for substitute timesharing.
  6. You may need to adjust the timesharing schedule from time to time, according to your children’s ages, health and interests.
  7. Often a parent wonders where to take the children during timesharing and what to plan in the way of amusement for them, particularly if the children are young. Activities may add to the pleasure of time spent together, but most important of all is the parent’s time with the children. Giving one’s self is more important than giving material things.
  8. Do not use timesharing to check on the other party. Your children should not be used as little spies. If your children have the perception that their parents hate each other, they will feel uncomfortable. In their minds, if they do anything to please one parent, they may invite outright rejection by the other parent. For this reason, parents should show mutual respect for each other.
  9. The children may be left with many problems following timesharing and both parents should make every effort to discuss them and to agree on ways to deal with them.
  10. Both parents should strive for agreement in decisions pertaining to the children, especially discipline, so that one parent is not undermining the other parent’s efforts.
  11. Both parents should use common sense in developing a timesharing schedule and exercising timesharing. Try to follow the golden rule “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.”
  12. Your children’s future attitudes, outlook and emotional development are important. Spending time with you that is as uncomplicated and “normal” as possible under the circumstances is necessary to their emotional health. To the extent possible, the children should know and have the love of and the proper guidance of both parents.
  13. You may not move more than 50 miles away from your current home without first obtaining the other parent’s written agreement or the permission of the court. A failure to comply may result in sanctions such as being found in contempt of court, and the court may also consider the violation as a “black mark” against the you in future proceedings regarding timesharing. The bottom line for the custodial parent is: DO NOT MOVE BEFORE THE COURT GIVES YOU PERMISSION TO DO SO. The bottom line for the non-relocating parent is: ASSERT ANY OBJECTIONS TO A MOVE THAT HAS NOT YET OCCURRED IN A TIMELY MANNER; IF A MOVE HAS ALREADY OCCURRED, ASK THE COURT TO ORDER RETURN OF THE CHILD AND IF DESIRED, REQUEST OTHER SANCTIONS AND/OR A MODIFICATION OF THE PARENTING PLAN.  

We know that these guidelines will not answer every problem which will arise, nor will they solve all questions raised, but if they assist you in a time of crisis and stress, then they are useful and are worthy of your attention.