Articles Posted in Parenting Plans and Time Sharing

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Never a truer statement has been made then “the buck stops here”, when dealing with time sharing issues in a divorce case.  What this means is that the judge must have the final word in all issues which affect minor children, and he does not have the legal authorization to delegate that responsibility to any third party, including a therapist.

The animosity between parents can lead to difficult situations with their minor children.  When a parent’s anger adversely affects the minor children, that particular parent may end up with restricted contact with their minor children.  When one parent suffers from anxiety or depression, their behavior may have adverse effects on their children.  In either one of these scenarios, a therapist might be called in to intervene, and make recommendations to the court as to future prospects for time sharing, if a parents rights have been temporarily restricted.

In Grigsby v. Grigsby, 39 So 3rd 453 (Florida 2nd DCA 2010), the mother suffered a suspension of her time sharing with her children.  The trial court failed to delineate what was required of the mother in order to reestablish her time sharing.   As a result of the trial court’s failure to delineate, the decision was reversed on appeal.

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The current law in Florida provides that a parent cannot relocate or change the location of their principal residence if that change of residence will be more than 50 miles from their current residence.  If a spouse is considering a move that is more than 50 miles away, they must obtain either the written consent of the other spouse, or seek approval from the court.  The relocation provisions of Florida law are found in Florida Statute 61.13001.

In the absence of a statutory or contractual provision to the contrary, the proper method to measure the distance between 2 points is the straight line or quote as the crow flies” measure. If the distance using the straight-line test measurement is less than 50 miles, a move can be made by one parent without consent from the other parent or approval from the court. This would be true even if the move is 49 miles away.

However, simply because a move is less than 50 miles away, does not mean that other aspects of a parenting plan would be effected.  A move 49 miles away would most definitely effect the school boundaries, and therefore the school that the minor child would attend.  Does this mean that the moving or relocating parent has a right to change schools without obtaining the other parent’s consent?

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A parenting plan is a written contract between the parents of minor children.  Parenting plans are subject to court approval.

At a minimum, a parenting plan must include the following: (1) A description as to how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child; (2) the time sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent; (3) which parent will be responsible for health care; (4) school related matters, including the address to be used for school boundary determination and registration; (5) other activities that the minor child may be involved with and who shall bear the expense of those activities; (6) the various methods in which the parents shall communicate with the child.

A parenting plan can be as detailed as the parents require, and can provide for any specific situation concerning the family.

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It is understandable that some spouses who are divorcing are not necessarily in the mindset to cooperate with one another. After all, fighting and disagreements have likely played a role in the decision to end their marriage. However, refusal to come to an agreement regarding one or more issues in a divorce can cause serious delays and can increase the cost of a divorce.

Before a court will grant your divorce, you and your spouse must settle numerous issues including:

  • Property and debt division;
  • Child support;
  • Time-sharing and visitation;
  • Parenting plans;
  • Alimony.

If any one of those issues cannot be settled out of court, the divorce can be delayed as the court will have to decide for you. You and your spouse will have to present evidence to support your arguments for how you want to resolve the issue at trial and the judge will rule on the matter.

A recent divorce case demonstrates just how much a divorce case can be affected by adversarial disputes instead of cooperation. After 25 years of marriage, the wife of the founder of Cancer Treatment Centers for America filed for divorce. The filing occurred in 2009 and the case is still dragging on due to several disagreements regarding a prenuptial agreement, custody, and division of their millions of dollars in assets. The case has involved numerous hearings, appellate hearings, changes of lawyers, contempt orders, and other complications, and is now finally going to trial over asset and property division. In the meantime, both spouses have likely spent an enormous amount of money, stress, and time dealing with the divorce proceedings and have been unable to remarry since their marriage is not yet dissolved after more than six years. Continue reading

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A major issue between parents who split up is who will get custody of their child. In many cases, if you do not particularly like the other parent or believe he or she may be irresponsible in some way, you may want to obtain sole custody rights. However, getting sole custody in Florida is extremely difficult.

In order to understand why this is the case, you should have a basic understanding of custody laws in Florida. First, there are two different aspects to child custody:

  • Physical custody: the time you spend with your child visiting you or living with you; and
  • Legal custody: the right to be a part of major decisions in the child’s life, including schooling, activities, religion, and medical care.

In Florida, physical custody is called “parenting time” and legal custody is often referred to as “parental responsibility.” How these rights are divided between parents is set out in a parenting plan that must be approved by the courts. Continue reading

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If you are no longer married or in a relationship with the other parent of your child, you will need to make many legal decisions regarding time-sharing and visitation. These are the terms that have largely replaced the term “child custody” in Florida, since Florida law sets out that maintaining continuing and frequent contact with both parents is in the best interests of the child unless there is evidence to the contrary. No longer do the courts presume that the mother should automatically have full custody and the courts make this type of determination hoping to uphold both parents’ rights to share in raising their child.

Determining how to share time and legal custody of children is not a simple matter and many parents may consistently argue over specifics of the arrangement. To avoid this, parents who have joint physical and/or legal custody over children must have a parenting plan approved by the courts. It is always preferable for parents to agree to the specifics of a parenting plan and then have the court approve it, as they know their child’s schedule and specific needs firsthand. Unfortunately, in some cases, parents cannot agree on all of the specifics of a parenting plan and the court must intervene and decide for them. No matter who decides the specifics, however, a parenting plan must include certain provisions.

Necessary Provisions in a Parenting Plan

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I know I am. Do we all know what it means? Do we know where the term originated? Do we know who created that term? The phrase is seen or heard almost on a daily basis.

I think by now we all know that Gwyneth Paltrow, the well known and talented actress, created it, or at least brought the term to the public forefront. Does the phrase actually have a clear defined meaning?

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What comes to my mind, as a divorce lawyer, is that the separation and split of the parties will be an amicable one. There will be no fighting and hostility. The parties will most likely conclude their marriage with an uncontested divorce proceeding.

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Custody of children in Florida is governed by the standard of the “best interests of the child.” In actuality, the term “custody” is no longer used in Florida. The terminology that is used by the court’s is what is known as “time-sharing.”

Time-sharing is established in a parenting plan, which is a written agreement between the parents of the minor child. The parenting plan may be as general or specific as the parents of the minor child may require.

At a minimum, the parenting plan should provide for the day-to-day responsibilities for the minor child, the days the minor child will be with each respective parent, the school district in which the child shall attend school, who will provide the health insurance for the child and who shall make decisions regarding the best interests of the child

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Moving from the state of Florida with minor children without permission can have serious consequences. The rules for relocation from the state of Florida are found in Florida Statutes 61.13001.

If the “stay behind” parent consents to relocation, make sure that consent is given in writing. stock-photo-18805289-boarding-pass.jpg If consent is not given, relocation must be initiated by the parent seeking to relocate, by filing a petition in the Circuit Court that currently has jurisdiction over the parties.

The petition must include a substantial amount of information, including the complete address of the intended new residence; telephone numbers, the reason for the requested relocation, and if for employment purposes, should include a copy of the employment offer.

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Divorce often times becomes a power struggle for control over the children. Issues such as time sharing, educational decisions, sports activities, religious upbringing, and medical care are just a few of such issues.

Anger between parents also brings the children into the middle of things. What role should the children play in their parent’s divorce? Whose side should they take, and for whom should they speak on behalf of

The answer to these questions should be apparent. They are not the ones “getting divorced”; their parents are divorcing. It is not their battle, and they should not be a part of the proceedings.