Child Custody, Child Support, and Timesharing in Florida
About Child Support
The amount of child support in Florida is determined by statute and is primarily based on the parents’ income and the number of children. However, the statutes also recognize certain other factors that may influence the amount of child support payment, including:
- The cost of child care
- The cost of health insurance
- Non-covered medical expenses like co-pays and prescriptions
Timesharing (formerly known as a child custody or visitation) is a separate and distinct issue. When settling timesharing disputes, courts look at the best interest of the child to determine how the child should share time between two fit and capable parents.
The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized that the U.S. Constitution grants citizens a fundamental right to the care, custody, and control of their children, so local courts generally begin with the idea that parents are entitled to share time with their children equally in a 50/50 split. In Florida, some state senators are working to codify the presumption of 50-50 timesharing in state law, but this hasn’t happened yet. Today, the rule is simply that the court should do what is in the “best interest of the child.”
Legal Factors that Influence Timesharing Decisions
The statutes outline numerous factors the court should examine when determining what, exactly, constitutes the child’s best interests. These factors include:
- The demonstrated capacity and 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.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to their own needs or desires.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of travel time required to enact the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and 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.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, including discipline and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each 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.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- 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.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
While you may have many different reasons why you believe the timesharing arrangement you want is in your child’s best interest, these reasons can be very difficult to communicate to a judge, particularly in the short span of time that the court allots for hearings. Having an attorney represent you can prove essential to your success in obtaining a time-sharing schedule that addresses your child’s best interests and works for you.
Are Child Support and Timesharing Related?
Although the court’s decision regarding timesharing is separate from the decision for child-support, there is a correlation. The idea behind this relationship is that a parent who participates in caring for the child and has physical custody of them does not need to pay the other parent for their expenses because they are incurring these expenses themselves.
If the parenting plan ordered by the court gives the parent more than 72 overnights with the child per year, then that parent will receive an offset for any owed child support (because they’re likely incurring some of the expenses of maintaining the child during that time).
Contact the Devolder Law Firm for Help with Timesharing, Child Custody, and Child Support in New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, and the Tampa Area
If you need to enter a timesharing/child custody or child support arrangement with your spouse, the dedicated team at the Devolder Law Firm is here to help. We base our legal solutions around our clients’ unique needs and circumstances with only their best interests in mind, and we excel when it comes to creating forward-thinking settlement agreements and parenting plans that minimize the need for later modifications, which is an important step toward keeping legal costs down.
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To meet the Devolder Law Firm team and get started with an initial consultation, please call our offices at (813) 724-3880 or fill out the contact form.