Florida Equal Timesharing Law: An Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Timesharing/Visitation on Thursday, February 25, 2016.

A new Senate Bill revises the law on parental timesharing with minor children by making equal timesharing a presumption. This week it cleared the Senate in a 23-15 vote.

Opening day of 2016 Florida legislative session.
Opening day of 2016 Florida legislative session.

I’ve written about Florida’s attempts to make equal timesharing of children mandatory in the past. The new bill creates a rebuttable presumption that approximately equal timesharing with a minor child by both parents is in the best interest of the child.

Under the bill, you may overcome the presumption by providing evidence based on factors that affect the welfare and interests of the child, and the circumstance of the family.

Current Florida law provides a list of factors for the court to consider in establishing or modifying a time-sharing schedule, based on the best interests of the child.

In addition to the factors presently provided in law, SB 250 adds the following:

– The amount of timesharing requested by each parent; and

– The frequency that a parent would likely leave the child in the care of a nonrelative on evenings and weekends when the other parent would be available and willing to provide care.

But the bill may be headed into trouble in the Florida House of Representatives. House leaders are pushing an alimony-reform bill that does not have the same equal time-sharing provision.

House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said the House is prepared to pass an alimony bill, but is not considering other issues that have “weighed down” past reform efforts.

“We are concentrating on alimony reform,” Workman said. “Anything to do with not alimony is not germane in the House.”

The bill’s sponsor has said the 50-50 child-sharing presumption would create “greater predictability and reliability” in custody cases, replacing the current and vaguer policy of children having “frequent and continuing contact with both parents.”

However, no state has required that courts order equal time-sharing or joint custody of minor children. The presumption creates a uniform rule where the flexibility of ‘the best interest of the child’ may be needed. It requires courts to focus on the quantity of time instead of quality of time, and changes the focus to what is best for the parents instead of what’s in the child’s best interest.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune article is here.