In the past the State of Florida used terms such as “custody”, “visitation”, “primary” and “secondary” parent. One parent was able to see their children one night a week and every other weekend, while the other had the majority of the time with the children. Over the course of the last few years Florida has become one of the most progressive states in promoting parental rights and reducing litigation involving children’s issues. Knowing how harmful some these labels can be, Florida no longer designates one parent the primary or secondary parent. A parent’s time with their child is not described as visitation or custody. Today Florida utilizes a parenting plan (http://www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/293/urlt/995a.pdf) which is a blue print for divorcing parents, once the case has been finalized.
The legislature has shifted the language so that parents have “shared parental responsibility” and “timesharing” with their children. This simple shift in the language has made each parent feel they are as much a part of the children’s lives as the other parent is. Of course, the parenting plan has several different areas involving parenting, including schooling, holiday timesharing and child care to name a few. Every family is unique, and what is best for one family may not be best for your family. A poorly drafted parenting plan could cause conflict between you and your former spouse for years to come. This conflict will most definitely impact the children. It is of critical importance that you consult with a lawyer to make the plan you enter into best for you and your family to avoid issues in future. Once a parenting plan is established, it extremely difficult to change, making it that much more important to have it completed properly the first time.
As a side note, a common misconception is that Florida will automatically award each parent 50% of the time with their child(ren). This is simply not true. Although it can be argued Florida Courts are now favoring 50/50 timesharing, the law, as it is written today, makes no presumption for equal timesharing. The Florida Legislature has attempt to create a presumption, but it was vetoed by the governor in 2016.