CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILDREN AND VISITATION IN FLORIDA
(PARENTAL AUTHORITY AND TIMESHARING)
Best interest of the child. In making decisions regarding children, Florida courts must consider the “best interest of the child.”
Custody is a term that is no longer used in Florida law. In Florida, parents are awarded either Shared Parental Responsibility of their children or one parent is awarded Sole Parental Responsibility. Courts may also award one parent “decision-making” authority over educational, health, or other matters if joint decision-making would be detrimental to the child.
Sole Parental Responsibility is disfavored in Florida. For one parent to receive Sole Parental Authority, they must prove that it would be detrimental and not in the child’s best interest for the parents to have Shared Parental Responsibility.
Entitlements under Shared Parental Responsibility. Parents with Shared Parental Responsibility for their minor children are entitled to access information about the children, ranging from educational information to medical records.
Responsibilities under Shared Parental Responsibility. Parents who have shared parental responsibility for their minor children are responsible for protecting their minor children from litigation and refraining from making derogatory remarks about the other parent in the presence of the children.
Parenting Class. In Florida, parents must attend and complete a parenting course to understand their rights and responsibilities under Shared Parental Responsibility fully.
Visitation is a term that is no longer used in Florida law. In Florida, parents are awarded Timesharing with their children. Timesharing and other matters concerning the child are set forth in a Parenting Plan.
Effective July 1, 2023, the laws in Florida changed, and there is now a legal presumption in favor of equal timesharing. This is only a legal presumption and not a certainty in every case. Courts must still establish a timesharing schedule and Parenting Plan that is in the children’s best interests.
Parenting Plans are very detailed plans for the child’s regular timesharing schedule, holiday schedule, summer break schedule, school choice and other matters. If parents cannot agree on a Parenting Plan, the Court will establish one for them at trial.