Some Co-Parenting-Friendly Timesharing Arrangements
Florida’s child custody laws have gone through several different phases since World War II. Back then, the “tender years” doctrine dominated child custody cases. Divorced mothers almost always received full custody of the children, and fathers received only limited visitation rights. It was assumed that fathers were either unwilling or unable to care for children.
Then, in the 1970s, joint custody laws took over. Mothers still received full physical custody in most cases. But fathers had more visitation rights, and legal custody (the parent who makes important decisions for the children) was a bit more equal.
Today, Florida and most other states have co-parenting laws. These laws require both parents to actively participate in the child-rearing process. So, many parents want or need timesharing arrangements which do not follow the traditional every other weekend/every other holiday division. In these situations, Clearwater family law attorneys sometimes direct families to these arrangements.
Generally, the children move back and forth between their parents’ homes, depending on the visitation schedule. In this model, the children stay in one place, which is usually the family home. And, the parents swap residences according to the visitation schedule.
This model is very consistent for the children, and Pinellas County family law judges love consistency. The children always sleep in the same bed and probably always have roughly the same routine.
This model usually works if the parents get along reasonably well and live reasonably close together. Additionally, the divorce decree must address things like proportional mortgage and utility payments.
In addition to consistency, children usually thrive on predictability. They like to have roughly the same schedule throughout the month. Such a setup is also good for extracurricular activity planning.
So, block scheduling might be a good alternative. The children spend a week or two with Parent A, a week or two with Parent B, and the cycle repeats. Except for some tweaks around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other major holidays, the schedule stays the same fifty-two weeks a year.
Generally, the parties can make any changes they want by agreement. So, if Dad wants to take Susie out for a birthday dinner, Mom can agree to that change.
These two models might be too radical for some families. In these cases, an extended weekend plan often fulfills the co-parenting requirement while maintaining personal boundaries.
Usually, weekends begin on Friday night and end on Sunday night. The extended version starts weekends on Thursday night and ends them on Monday night. Frequently, parents also change midweek Wednesday visitation to an overnight, if the nonresidential parent has the children that weekend.
The same scheme applies to long distance, once monthly weekend visitation. Generally, judges divide travel costs proportionally between the parents. However, that might be different if one parent unilaterally moved the children out of the vicinity.
Count on an Experienced Lawyer
Florida’s co-parenting law often dictates some outside the box solutions. For a free consultation with an experienced Clearwater family attorney, contact Cairns Law, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Pinellas County and nearby jurisdictions.