Web Site modified August 2011 by Joanna Mitchell, Esq. - J Mitchell PA Inc. All rights reserved. - Web Design by afthd.com

Office Located in Central Florida, Lake County, Florida
Accepting Cases in  Orange, Seminole, Lake, Sumter, Marion and adjacent Counties

All initial consultations are free! So, please do not hesitate to contact us today, Call Now (352) 324-2444

Your Question Directly to An Attorney

What factors does the court consider in determining what timesharing should be ordered if the parties cannot agree?

The days of mothers automatically being the parent that the child resides with predominately are gone. First and foremost, if the parties cannot agree, the court attempts to determine what timesharing arrangement and living situation is in the best interest of the child. It is not about what either parent wants, and it can be an extremely complex decision with multiple factors involved. These factors include, but are not limited to, 1) which parent is more likely to encourage and facilitate a close and continuing parent-child relationship with the other parent, 2) which parent honors the time-sharing schedule, 3) which parent is reasonable when changes are required, 4) which parent utilizes third parties to handle their parental responsibilities, 5) which parent places the child’s needs in front of their own needs and desires, 6) which parent can provide a stable home life for the child, 7) which parent is involved with and informed about the child’s friends, teachers, medical needs, and daily activities, 8) which parent has demonstrated a capacity to provide a consistent routine for the child, 9) which parent is the best at keeping the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, 10) which parent typically is the one who performs the daily parenting tasks involved in caring for the child’s needs, 11) evidence of substance abuse by either parent, 12) which parent makes the strongest attempt at shielding the child from any controversy between the parents themselves, and 13) evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment or child neglect whether in the past with a prior relationship or situation, or involving the current parents and children, and this is just to name a few (there are more).

Another factor that many people can overlook is the simple logistics of a proposed timesharing arrangement, or how much time the child will spend traveling in order to facilitate a particular timesharing arrangement and how this well affect the child and impact the child’s schooling. Frequently, especially when both parents are equally suited to be the parent that the child predominately spends time with, this can be a key consideration to the court’s decision, should the parents not be able to determine an appropriate timesharing arrangement between themselves.

Does the amount of timesharing that a parent has with the minor child(ren) affect child support?

Yes, it can affect child support if the timesharing is considered substantial contact. Effective January 2011, if one parent has 20% or more of the overnights (73 or more overnights during the course of a year), then their child support obligation may be reduced. This is because the legislature, in determining the child support guidelines, contemplated that if the child was spending that much time with one of the parents, then they were already contributing to the support of the child by virtue of the amount of time that they were spending with the child. This doesn't mean that there won't be any child support paid at all, just that there is a second calculation that has to be done to determine what the appropriate amount of child support to be exchanged should be. The amount of the decrease is determined by the percentage of overnights, and someone who has 20% will not have nearly the reduction as someone who has 40% or more. And, if the parties incomes are significantly different, there will probably still be some child support exchanged even if the timesharing is equal or 50/50. The child support obligation will simply be a reduction from what it would be under the standard child support calculation.

Typically, only overnights are considered in determining whether someone has a "substantial contact" timesharing arrangement. However, it is possible that child support still be adjusted if someone spends a significant amount of time with the child that doesn't include overnights (for example, if someone essentially operates as child care for the child most of the time). If this is the case, then a motion can be filed to deviate from the Florida Child Support Guidelines, at which point evidence would have to be presented and the decision would ultimately be at the discretion of the Judge.

Your Question Directly to An Attorney

Your Question Directly to An Attorney