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Florida Parenting Plans – What Constitutes Time Sharing?
For many, many years, when a marriage broke up or one parent could no longer care for their minor children; the courts would award a child to one parent with what was termed primary custody. The parent receiving custody was then referred to as the custodial parent and the other parent as the secondary parent or noncustodial parent. Basically, what this meant was that the minor child would live with and, for the part, be raised by the custodial parent. The secondary or noncustodial parent would be given visiting rights on specific days and for specific times but usually no overnights with his or her child.
Additionally, the custodial or primary care parent would make all decisions regarding the minor child's welfare and did not have to ask the opinion of the other parent or for that matter even tell the other parent what was going on, As could be expected, this arrangement for raising children from birth to age 18 and beyond if a child could not provide for themselves wasn't fair to the child or the secondary parent.
But fairness wasn't the only issue that, over time, became evident to physicians, social workers, mental health workers, and educators. Children from broken homes were exhibiting far more health issues, physical, mental, and emotional, than children from intact homes. All too often, children that were doing well in school would see their grades fall and exhibit behavioral problems during and following the breakup of their home. The "other parent" was also seen as having significantly more issues of being left out of their child's life, which could and often did affect adult physical, emotional, and mental health as well.
And so, as more and more research showed the value of having both parents involved in the care and nurturing of their children, family courts began to look at ways to make the sharing of parenting a possibility, even in the case of broken homes. Parental time-sharing is today's answer to how best to keep both parents involved in raising their children. Both parents are seen as equal in importance and, though each will have his or her special talents to offer, the child will have the benefit of each. Too, neither parent will feel more important or less a parent than the other. It also makes it easier to not allow one parent more "power" than the other. A parent can no longer say, to make the other parent look bad, that he or she doesn't spend time with or help make decisions for their minor child.
Time-sharing is just what the two words state. Both parents have equal rights to the care and nurturing of their minor children. Overnights are divided as evenly as possible, so each parent has their child half the time. Decisions are no longer made by one parent (except in minor cases such as a skinned knee or visit to a friend's house after school) in the areas of medical, educational, religion, and discipline. Parents must work together in the best interests of their child, putting negative feelings aside for the betterment of their child's healthy development.
Questions such as who gets the child for holidays?, how and where will the child be picked up for exchanges?, who will care for the child if the parent can't on his or her turn?, and how will parents and child communicate when apart?, will all be determined in what is called a parenting plan.
In reality, parents often have trouble working together to accomplish time-sharing. Still, it is required by Family court, and a parent can be held in contempt with likely consequences if he or she fails to do so. Children need the love, involvement, and emotional support of both parents and time-sharing attempts to have that happen.
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Grant J. Gisondo is the founder of Grant J. Gisondo, P.A. to focus his practice on family and marital law with offices in West Palm Beach serving Palm Beach County, Martin County, Saint Lucie County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Hillsborough and Orange County.
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