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Six Costly Mistakes in Timesharing Child Custody Cases in Florida

Child custody, particularly time-sharing schedules, has seen significant changes with Florida’s adoption of a presumption in favor of 50/50 time-sharing. This legislative shift aims to ensure that children have equal access to both parents post-divorce, reinforcing the belief that the involvement of both parents is in the child’s best interest, barring circumstances that render a parent unfit. 

Despite this progressive step towards equitable parenting time, certain mistakes during a separation or divorce can still threaten your ability to secure a favorable time-sharing arrangement.

Ignoring the 50/50 Time-Sharing Presumption: Overlooking the importance of the 50/50 time-sharing presumption in Florida custody cases can have damaging consequences. The legal framework prioritizes the child’s best interest above all, applying a comprehensive evaluation of factors affecting the child’s welfare as mandated by Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes. This evaluation includes an assessment of each parent’s ability to maintain the child’s welfare, requiring a demonstration of each parent’s commitment to upholding a beneficial relationship with their child and the other parent. 

Ignorance of the 50/50 time-sharing standard can affect your custody case, as the courts are not persuaded by parental convenience but rather by the principle of the child’s best interest. Familiarity with and adherence to this presumption is vital, as it underscores the state’s commitment to ensuring that both parents play an active, positive role in their child’s life.

Engaging in Behavior Detrimental to Co-Parenting: Involvement in domestic violence or creating an unsafe environment for the child directly violates Florida’s commitment to shared parental responsibility, unless shared custody is deemed dangerous to the child’s well-being. The legal system places substantial weight on allegations or convictions of domestic violence, viewing such behavior as potentially harmful to the child. This perspective necessitates a cautious approach to conflict during divorce or separation, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a safe, collaborative parenting environment. 

Allegations of domestic violence complicate custody proceedings, requiring the accused parent to demonstrate their fitness as a parent. The courts scrutinize such cases intensively, with the child’s safety as the primary concern, aligning custody decisions with the child’s best interest.

Substance Abuse Allegations: Allegations of substance abuse are taken seriously within the Florida legal system, especially in the context of 50/50 time-sharing. The courts prioritize the child’s safety and welfare, requiring substantial evidence to counteract allegations of alcohol or drug misuse. Proactive steps, including undergoing substance evaluations and consistent drug testing, are essential for disputing such allegations. 

This approach not only demonstrates a parent’s commitment to maintaining a safe environment for their child but also aligns with the judicial emphasis on the child’s best interest. Addressing substance abuse allegations head-on is crucial, as the legal system prioritizes a child’s safety and well-being in determining custody arrangements.

Unilaterally Controlling or Disrupting the Time-Sharing Schedule: The unilateral alteration of the time-sharing schedule without justified cause can severely undermine the legal presumption of shared parenting in Florida. The courts evaluate the ability of parents to communicate effectively and co-parent by avoiding conflict, considering any actions that may distance the other parent or hinder their relationship with the child. 

Such behavior not only jeopardizes the co-parenting relationship but also indicates a disregard for the child’s best interest, potentially leading to adjustments in custody arrangements. The emphasis on cooperation and mutual respect in parenting decisions reflects the legal standard’s focus on the child’s well-being and the importance of maintaining stable, nurturing relationships with both parents, which is the core of the 50/50 time-sharing principle.

Unauthorized Relocation: Unauthorized relocation, particularly without the consent of the other parent or the court, directly challenges the legal principles underpinning shared custody in Florida. The state’s legal framework highlights the importance of parental relationships in the child’s life, advocating for stability and continuity. 

Unilateral relocation decisions, especially those exceeding a 50-mile radius, are viewed as attempts to disrupt this stability, potentially leading to a reassessment of custody arrangements. Such actions are indicative of a failure to co-parent effectively, reflecting poorly on the relocating parent’s commitment to the child’s best interest and the cooperative parenting model endorsed by the court.

Misuse of Child Protection Services: Leveraging child protection services to gain an advantage in custody disputes is highly discouraged and illegal in Florida. False reports to the Department of Children and Family Services not only burden the system but also violate the ethical and legal standards expected of parents in custody cases. 

The courts view such actions as against the child’s best interest, potentially leading to severe legal and criminal consequences for the offending parent. This misuse of child protection services undermines the credibility of the parent in the eyes of the court and can significantly impact the outcome of custody proceedings. The emphasis is on genuine concerns of abuse or neglect, with the court prioritizing the child’s safety and welfare in its considerations.

The Bottom Line

Staying informed about the recent updates is essential for your child custody case in Florida. Engaging in behaviors that foster a cooperative co-parenting environment, respecting the legal guidelines, and prioritizing your child’s best interests are key to upholding the presumption of equal time-sharing. Consulting with a legal expert who is up-to-date with the latest statutes and laws is important to ensure your actions and legal strategies align with Florida’s commitment to equitable parenting time.

At Dewitt Law Firm, we understand that overlooking recent law updates can impact your child custody case. A simple mistake can jeopardize your time with your child. Therefore, we remain at your service to keep you informed about the recent legal updates at every step of your case – so you can make an informed decision in your child’s best interests. 

Ready to safeguard your parental rights and secure a fair time-sharing arrangement? Call Dewitt Law Firm today!