The State of Florida mandates a parenting time-sharing plan as part of any divorce that includes children. This time-sharing schedule moves the concept of custody away from being gender-based as it can no longer be assumed that mothers are the primary caregiver, with fathers getting mere visitation rights.
This time-sharing schedule first and foremost considers the child’s best interest. Before approving a schedule, a court will investigate both parental homes and neighborhoods to determine the type of care each parent can provide.
How Does a Time-Sharing Schedule Work?
Each schedule should be designed to meet the needs of each individual family. Parents can agree on any type of workable schedule; however, there are some plans more popular than others in the State of Florida.
- Some parents share custody/time on a 50-50 basis. The child divides their time equally between both parents.
- Another popular time-sharing schedule is the 2-3-2 types, which ensures that there is an equal balance between weekdays and weekends.
- In the event one parent is the primary caregiver, weekend visitations need to be scheduled. Such a schedule should be modifiable depending on special circumstances.
- Any parental time-sharing schedule needs to address holidays, vacations, and other special occasions and accommodate for unforeseen events. Flexibility should be a huge part of most time-sharing schedules.
Parenting Time-Sharing Schedules and Summer Vacations
A schedule can be forthright for the school year, but what happens during summer vacation, with its travel plans, summer camps, and other outings?
That is where the importance of flexibility comes in. For example, if a parent has a 2 or 3-week vacation planned to visit the grandparents, this should be accommodated.
If travel and/or camp are a regular part of the child’s summer, perhaps a specific Summer Time-Sharing Schedule can be put into place.
Summertime will not affect infants and toddlers. For children in preschool or school, however, parents should consider the fact that during the summer, there will be no homework, no traveling back and forth to school, and both parents need to incorporate other parent-child activities into their days. It’s a good time for some additional bonding time and making special memories.
If a summer time-sharing schedule needs to be drawn up, here are the most popular types:
- 2-2-3 – here the child will spend two days with each parent, and a long weekend with one parent, and the long weekend will alternate regularly to give both parents equal time. This schedule works well when the parents live close to each other.
- Alternating week – this is an easy schedule. The children spend one week with one parent and the next week with the other parent. The children should be old enough to spend an entire week without the other parent. If the children are too young to be without the other parent for an entire week, a flexible mid-week sleepover should be arranged. A weeklong schedule can also be incorporated into a week at camp or grandma’s house.
- Every two weeks – this is very much like the alternating week plan, but it has even greater flexibility. It allows for longer vacation activities and more activities in general.
- The entire summer – this schedule can work when parents live quite a distance apart and the child has one primary caretaker and sees less of the other parents. With this schedule, the far-away parent gets the child for the entire summer to build a real parent/child bond.
As has been stated, each family situation is different, and the parents should arrange a time-sharing schedule with the child’s best interest in mind. In the event of problems, changes in circumstances, or disagreements, the court can revisit the issue and revise the schedule to suit all parties.
The purpose of a time-sharing schedule is to make the divorce as easy as possible for the child. He or she should feel secure, regardless of which home he or she is in. The schedule should disrupt the child’s life only minimally, and it should protect him or her from parental conflict and disagreement.
The schedules should be specific enough to deal with most circumstances (birthdays, weekends, school activities, holidays, etc.) but should also be flexible enough to include changes when necessary. The plan should also include the specifics on how the child will be shifted between the two homes – who will deliver and pick him or her up.
Parents should keep in mind the purpose of a time-sharing schedule is not to create unreasonable rules, but to keep the child’s life as manageable as possible.
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