Changes to a Florida Statute Could Emphasize Equal Timesharing for Parents and Children

A recently introduced bill in the Florida Senate contains proposed modifications to Florida’s parental responsibility and timesharing statute, Florida Statute 61.13. Senate Bill 250 primarily addresses alimony reform, but also changes our current timesharing and parental responsibility laws by creating a presumption in favor of equal timesharing. If the bill passes the house and senate and is ultimately signed by Governor Scott, it could potentially take effect by October 2016.

The current version of Florida Statute 61.13 regarding timesharing contains 20 factors the court must consider in determining a child’s timesharing with his / her parents. Notably absent from the current statute, however, is a “starting point.” Should analysis begin with the assumption that the child’s best interests are served by equal time with both parents? Or does it start with the assumption that one parent should have majority time and use the factors to determine who that parent should be? The current statute does not make this starting point clear.

The proposed new statute hopes to clarify the analysis process by stating “approximately equal timesharing with a child by both parents is presumed to be in the best interest of the child,” therefore setting the timesharing default to “equal.”

In order to overcome this presumption in favor of equal time, the court is required to evaluate the statutory factors to determine if deviation is appropriate. The twenty factors from the current version of 61.13 are carried over in the new bill. A new and additional factor has been created, however, that requires the court to address the address necessity and use of non-relative babysitters in the proposed timesharing schedules. Further, the proposed new statutory language also requires the court to state written findings of fact in support of any deviation from equal timesharing.

Divorce and family law issues can be complex. For information on how Givens Givens Sparks can assist you with your divorce and family law matters, contact one of our attorneys

Written by:
Blair H. Chan III, Esq. | Principal
Givens Givens Sparks

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