Child Custody Sharing
In the past, judges have had broad discretion when trying to determine alimony schedules and payment amounts; typically basing their decision on factors including standard of living, length of marriage, and each spouse’s post-divorce earnings. Over the past two years, Florida legislators have proposed changes to the law in order to resolve uncertainties surrounding alimony. HB 943 looked to end permanent alimony in Florida, and establish a formula to determine alimony payments.
However, the alimony reform legislation failed to pass due to a provision in the bill calling for an equal-time sharing presumption in child custody cases. Originally, the House version of the bill stated that family law judges could schedule timesharing in the best interest of the minor child, which could range from no timesharing to equal timesharing. Case law in Florida creates a presumption that equal timesharing is not in the best interest of children. Many argue that when the child custody statute was in 2008 that this presumption against equal timesharing was abolished, but no Florida court has overturned the presumption against equal timesharing.
As ideal as a 50-50 time split may sound, there are problems arising from this type of child sharing arrangement. An equal time sharing agreement removes focus off of the children, whose welfare should be the focus of the case, and puts emphasis on the parents while removing flexibility from the equation as both sides determine how to get their 84 hours a week.
While alimony laws require standardization and predictability, custody agreements work best when parents work together and jointly draft a child-focused parenting strategy overseen by the court. Failing the agreement of the parents, allowing impartial judges the flexibility to award time in the best interest of the children and not based upon the sometimes selfish concerns of parents in contentious and emotional litigation is best. The bottom line is doing what is best for the children.
Divorce can take an immense toll on a child’s emotions, but it does not have to. Collaborative Divorce Law is a non-adversarial approach aimed at easing the emotional strains of divorce and protecting the best interests of a child.