"Equal Time Sharing" in Child Custody Arrangements May Be Coming to Florida
The effort to change Florida’s alimony laws has not died with Gov. Rick Scott’s veto. Reform advocates are continuing to press forward, bolstered by support in the Legislature, where the bill gained strong support.
One important component of the reforms they’re seeking involve child custody arrangements. The bill vetoed by the governor contained a provision that encouraged equal-time sharing between both parents, a marked contrast from current law.
New wording proposed
Specifically, the bill sought that the following language be added to current child custody law: “Equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is in the best interest of the child ... “
What do you think? Is this type of wording necessary to ensure more equitable child custody arrangements?
Some notable exceptions
The bill did make some exceptions to equal time-sharing in the following cases:
- When the safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health of the child would be endangered by equal time-sharing
- When there is “clear and convincing evidence of extenuating circumstances” that justify a departure from equal time-sharing and the court expresses in writing the reasons for not implementing equal time-sharing
- A parent is in jail or prison
- The distance between both parents’ homes makes equal time-sharing impracticable
- A parent does not request at least 50-percent time-sharing
- A permanent injunction has been entered or is warranted against a parent or household member relating to contact between the subject of the injunction and the parent or household member
- Domestic violence has occurred
Reform advocates vow to revive bill 718, which deals in large part with alimony payments. Ending permanent alimony in Florida was the most publicized part of that bill, but reform advocates say the portion that deals with child custody is just as important. Current law does not state a preference either way but simply states that child custody should be decided in terms of what is in the best interests of the child.
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