Understanding The Terms ‘Parental Responsibility’ And ‘Time Sharing’
Historically, when a couple got a divorce and children were involved, it was well known that one or both parents would get custody of the children. In some cases, both parents were awarded joint custody. The term ‘child custody’ was a common one in Florida, and throughout the United States. Today, that has changed and in Florida, the terms ‘parental responsibility’ and ‘time sharing’ are used instead. This is a surprise to many people going through a divorce and many wonder what the reason was for the change.
What is Parental Responsibility and Time Sharing?
Parental responsibility has taken the place of the word ‘custody’ in the Florida Statutes. After a divorce, the parent that is awarded parental responsibility has the authority to make important decisions for the child. These can include decisions about the religion a child is raised in, or the medication they are prescribed. Like most decisions involving children, the courts will always try to award each parent equal parental responsibility. The presumption is that both parents should have a say in how their child is raised and the court is required to consider what “is in the best interest of the child(ren).
Time sharing, on the other hand, has taken the place of the word ‘visitation’ in the Florida Statutes. Ideally, both parents should reach an agreement about how much time each parent has with the child, and the certain days and times each parent will spend with the child. Other factors to consider is which parent will transport the child when it is time for the other parent to begin their time-sharing. When parents cannot reach an agreement together, the court will consider what time-sharing schedule is in the best interest of the child. The terms within a parenting plan should have enough specificity that there is no confusion and when there is a dispute, the parenting plan can help resolve it.
Why the Change?
Many people going through a divorce for the first time expect to fight over terms such as ‘custody’ and wonder why that term is no longer used. However, the reason for it is very practical.
The term custody often refers to possession and ownership. Even when parents do not intend to start thinking of their children as possessions, this type of language only reinforces that concept in their mind. Children should never be thought of or treated as possessions and so, the term custody was stricken from the statutes and replaced with parental responsibility.
The term visitation was also removed from the statutes and was replaced with the term ‘time-sharing.’ The concept behind this change was that parents should never be considered visitors in their child’s life. Instead, both parents should play an active role in the life of their children. Together, parents should share time with the child instead of one parent simply coming for visits periodically.
Our Family Lawyers in Florida Can Help with Your Case
While the language in the statutes may have changed, the fact that parents want to spend as much time with their children after divorce remains the same. If you are going through a divorce that involves children, our knowledgeable Orlando family lawyers at O’Mara Law Group want to help with your case. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help you achieve a favorable outcome.