50/50 Timesharing in Divorce: Friend or Foe?
In creating or modifying a timesharing schedule or parenting plan, Florida judges do not presume that any specific timesharing schedule is appropriate. There is no presumption for or against either parent, nor is there a presumption for or against a specific timesharing schedule. Florida Statute Section 61.13 addresses parenting plans and timesharing schedules and the appropriate factors for the court to consider in determining what is in the best interests of a specific child. No presumption for any specific timesharing schedule means that each case must be reviewed individually. The court must consider the factors in Florida Statute 61.13(3) and how they apply to each parent. For a discussion of those factors, please visit earlier articles posted on our website. Because each case is viewed independently, it is important to consult a qualified family law attorney to discuss an appropriate timesharing schedule for your family.
In 2015, the Florida legislature proposed an alimony reform bill which included a presumption that equal timesharing schedules were in the best interests of all Florida families. This bill was vetoed by the governor because this 50/50 timesharing provision was included in the legislation. The governor, along with many other family law lawyers, felt that a presumption of 50/50 timesharing improperly shifted the focus from the best interest of the child to the wants or desires of the parents. The governor recognized that all families are different and that timesharing schedules must take into consideration the individual circumstances of each family.
For many families in Florida, a 50/50 timesharing schedule is fitting because both parents serve the child’s best interests. The schedules of both parents enable them to share time equally with the children and the schedules of the children enable them to share time equally with both parents. The parents live close enough to each other to make the schedule possible and convenient for the children. However, there are situations where a 50/50 timesharing split is detrimental to the child. For example, it may be detrimental for a child to spend half of his or her time with a parent who has a history of domestic violence and who tolerates violent behavior. Every family is different, and it is appropriate that a parenting plan and timesharing schedule be tailored to the needs and circumstances of each family.
As the law currently stands, judges throughout Florida encourage frequent and continuing contact with both parents while ensuring that the primary focus is on the best interests of the child or children.