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How The Court Determines What Is Best For A Child Regarding Parental Timesharing?

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By Author: Grant Gisondo
Total Articles: 8
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Parental timesharing has, for several years, been how parents of minor children
divide the time they spend with each parent following a divorce or, in the case of unmarried parents, a separation. In years past, one parent was given primary custody, which included where the child would live, and the other parent had secondary custody with visitation rights. Very rarely did a minor child spend an overnight with the secondary parent. Time has proven children are much healthier in mind, body, and spirit when raised and nurtured by both parents, even when the parents are no longer together. Family courts in most states, Florida being one of them, now use parental timesharing as the way parents will care and nurture their minor children. Except in special circumstances, parents will divide the time spent with their child and share how major decisions in the areas of medical, educational, religion, and discipline are made. It is now up to the parents if mediation is successful or the judge to divide the number of overnights as equally as possible and do so in the best interest of the minor child.

When the court is the ...
... one to determine what is best for the child regarding parental timesharing, there are 20 guidelines a judge must consider. These guidelines are found for Florida residents in Florida Statutes 61.13(3). A paraphrased summary of these guidelines follows:
(a) Parents must demonstrate they have and will continue to carry out a close parent-child relationship now and during the parent timesharing schedule. A willingness to be flexible within the framework of the schedule is important.
(b) How will parental time with the child and responsibilities be carried out following the final order? Will, there be a third-party caregiver such as a grandparent or childcare center involved, and if so, how much time will the child be in extended care?
(c) How each parent shows their willingness to put the child's needs before their own.
(d) How long has the child been living in a satisfactory and stable environment, and should a care plan encompass as much of this dynamic as possible?
(e) What will be the best way to create a timesharing plan to incorporate a reasonable travel time for the child-to-parent exchange? Here the ages of the child are important as an infant has different needs than a teenager.
(f) Moral behavior of each parent.
(g) Both the mental and physical health of each parent is considered.
(h) How has the child performed at home, at school, and in the community? What part did the parents play in this?
(i) If the child is old enough and experienced enough (usually at least a teenager), what are their feeling regarding parental timesharing?
(j) Can the parents demonstrate knowledge about their child, such as who is the child’s friends, what is their favorite color, food, clothing, etc., and favorite things to do?
(k) Have parent(s) provided healthy guidelines such as mealtimes, bedtimes, study times, and playtimes?
(l) In front of the child, have the parents communicated with respect and shown a united front on major issues concerning the child?
(m) Has there been evidence of child abuse, domestic violence, or abandonment, and are there any convictions or pending actions?
(n) Evidence either party, has given false information for the above charges?
(o) What parenting tasks are already being carried out by which parent or a third party?
(p) Has each parent shown involvement in the child’s school and or extracurricular activities?
(q) Is the child’s environment free from substance abuse? If not, why and who is the offender?
(r) Proof that each parent has and will not speak about the case in front of the child and has and will not speak unkindly about the other parent to the child.
(s) Can show the court the parent (s) are knowledgeable about the developmental stages of children and the subsequent needs.
(t) Any other significant factor that is presented regarding the child in question that could affect the outcome of the parental timesharing schedule.

Family courts do not take the care and nurturing of a minor child lightly. Determining what is best for the child regarding timesharing is taken very seriously. Be sure, when you hire a legal professional to take your case involving minor children, that they understand the questions the court will be answering and can help you provide positive answers on your behalf.
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More About the Author

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. Grant J. Gisondo. P.A. is a Board Certified Family Attorney in Palm Beach Gardens FL

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