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Orlando Child Custody Attorneys

DeWitt Law Firm Orlando Child Custody Attorneys

In Florida, we don’t say “custody”—it’s all about “timesharing.” This means deciding how each parent will spend time with their kids through a parenting plan. The parenting plan outlines each parent’s rights and sets a schedule. You can work it out together or have the court decide. It’s important to really think this plan through because it sets the routine with your kids. 



Presumption of 50/50 Timesharing in Florida


Florida’s approach to timesharing and parenting plans saw a significant update in 2023, shifting towards a more balanced view that promotes the equal involvement of both parents in their children’s lives. The new law, which took effect on July 1, 2023, introduces a presumption in favor of 50/50 timesharing, suggesting that equal time spent with each parent is generally in the best interests of the child unless there is a good reason not to​​​​​​.


This shift means that courts now start with the assumption that sharing time equally between parents is beneficial for the children. However, this presumption can be challenged in court. A parent who believes an equal split wouldn’t serve their child’s best interests must provide convincing evidence to support their view. This new standard encourages parents to focus on creating a parenting plan that genuinely reflects the needs and welfare of their children, taking into account factors like the children’s routines, relationships with each parent, and overall stability​​.


Parenting Plan: An All-Inclusive Approach 


Section 61.13(2)(b) provides: 

A parenting plan approved by the court must, at a minimum:

1. Describe in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child;

2. Include the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent;

3. Designate who will be responsible for:

  • Any and all forms of health care. If the court orders shared parental responsibility over health care decisions, either parent may consent to mental health treatment for the child unless stated otherwise in the parenting plan.
  • School-related matters, including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration.
  • Other activities; and

4. Describe in adequate detail the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.

When drafting your parenting plan, you’ll want not only to lay out daily duties and transitions, but also get into the details of finances beyond child support. This includes splitting the costs for extracurricular activities and medical expenses, proportionate to each parent’s income. 


Plus, remember to discuss holiday timesharing—think of summer breaks, winter vacations, spring breaks, and Thanksgiving. But don’t forget to include any unique holidays special to your family. If they’re not in the plan, the regular schedule is prioritized. Keeping it clear and fair means focusing on what’s best for the kids, making every transition and decision smoother for everyone involved.


Updating Your Parenting Plan in Florida


The revised timesharing law in Florida also simplifies the process for modifying parenting plans and timesharing schedules. Previously, to make a change, one had to demonstrate a “substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances.” Now, the requirement that the change be “unanticipated” has been removed, making it somewhat easier for parents to request adjustments to reflect new developments in their lives or their children’s needs​​.


Moreover, if a parent moves within 50 miles of the other parent, this relocation can now be considered a significant change, potentially warranting a revision of the timesharing arrangement, provided it’s in the child’s best interest. This change aims to facilitate more flexibility and adaptability in parenting plans, accommodating the dynamic nature of family life and the evolving needs of children as they grow​​​​.




The updates to Florida’s timesharing laws mark a progressive step towards recognizing the importance of both parents playing active, meaningful roles in their children’s lives. By establishing a baseline of equal timesharing while allowing room for adjustments based on the child’s welfare, the law supports more balanced, fair, and adaptable parenting arrangements​​.

However, for a deeper understanding of Florida’s latest timesharing laws and their effects on your case, it is recommended to consult a family law attorney.


Need guidance on your child custody timesharing case in Florida? Call DeWitt Law Firm today!

Further Reading
Relocation of Minor Child or Children During Divorce in Orlando
The Common Pitfalls of Petitions for Relocation in Florida
orlando real estate litigation attorneys dewitt law firm
Divorcing When Your Child Has ADHD
How much does it cost to get a divorce?

Nobody can say with certainty how much your divorce will cost. If your divorce is truly uncontested and you and your spouse can agree to everything in a marital settlement agreement without a lot of negotiating back and forth, the attorney’s fees will range from 1500 to 1700 dollars, plus costs, which usually amount to about $500. If your divorce is contested, the total cost of the divorce will depend on the number of contested issues and the intensity with which they are litigated. Going to trial can be very expensive. If a family owned business is involved, for example, that business may need to be valued by a financial professional. The cost of that valuation can be substantial. If children’s issues are involved, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) may be appointed to investigate the best interests of the children and to make time-sharing and other recommendations to the court. GAL’s are usually paid hourly and can be costly depending on the extent of the conflict between the parties and the unresolved legal issues.

If you would like to discuss your particular situation with us, we can give you a much better idea of what the costs are likely to be for you.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

If everybody agrees and the divorce is uncontested, it is possible to get divorced fairly quickly. 60 to 90 days is not an unreasonable time-frame provided that the parties exchange the required information and execute the marital settlement agreement in a timely manner.

When divorces are contested, it is a lot more difficult to predict how long they will take. Experts need time to conduct evaluations, information must be exchanged through the discovery process, and in most situations, the parties must complete the mediation process before going to trial. I am sure some of you may be familiar with the movie The War of the Roses. That movie represents the worst divorce scenario where the divorce takes forever and the parties destroy their home and themselves in the process. With proper guidance and support, the horrors of this fictional scenario may be avoided. However, some contested divorces do become ugly and can last a long time. For example, a trial may result in a decision that is appealed by one side. The appeal process significantly lengthens the time to finalize all of the issues in a contested divorce.

The more issues there are between the couple and the more difficult it is for the couple to find common ground, the longer the process is likely to take.

Can I relocate after a divorce?

It is imperative that a parent with a minor or dependent child or children consult with a qualified attorney prior to relocating. In 2006, Florida enacted a new statute that addressed a parent’s relocation with a child. This statute sets forth a specific and technical procedure that must be complied with prior to relocation. Failure to comply with this statute can result in very harsh repercussions, including alterations of the time-sharing/custody arrangement.

The 2009 version of the Florida Statute titled Parental Relocation with a Child defined relocation with a series of criteria. In this particular version of the statute, a move would not be considered relocation if it were not more than 50 miles from the place of residence when the time-sharing/custody schedule was made or last modified, and a stay of less 60 days was generally not considered relocation. It is important to note that this statute has been amended since its 2006 enactment, and it is likely that it will be amended in the future. Even subtle changes can have a large impact, so you should consult with a qualified attorney to ensure that you are aware of the current obligations imposed by the statute. Dewitt Law Firm has handled many of these cases, and we would be honored to assist you with an agreed upon relocation or a contested relocation.

How does the Court determine who should have the children?

When parties cannot agree on time-sharing with the children, the court must decide after hearing evidence and testimony from both sides and others familiar with the relationship of the children to the parents.

The court looks at a variety of factors that are set forth in the Florida Statutes to make this determination. For example, the court looks to the history of the relationship between the children and each parent, how the children relate to each parent, the nature of the bond between parent and child, which parent is more likely to foster a good relationship between the children and the other parent, and which is more likely to share information and to encourage frequent time-sharing with the other.

Sometimes a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the court to help it make these determinations. The role of a GAL is to investigate the statutory factors and to make a recommendation to the court as to what is in the child(ren)’s best interest.

It is very important that you talk with us about any issues or concerns you have about your children. The actions you take could have an impact on a court’s decision regarding timesharing. Therefore, you should consult with us as soon as you anticipate a divorce or separation.

I have been divorced. Can I have the Final Judgment modified?

In Florida, a final judgment can be modified only if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the divorce and it is in the child(ren)’s best interest that it be modified. A party seeking to modify the Final Judgment has the burden of proving the existence of both of these factors.

This burden, however, can be overcome under the right circumstances. If you think your situation warrants a change in the Final Judgment, please set an appointment to speak with us about the specifics of your case so we can advise you on this matter.

Do I need an Attorney to Get a Divorce?

No, you do not absolutely need an attorney to get a divorce. It is possible to get a divorce without an attorney. However, we strongly recommend that if you own a house or any real estate, you have a family business, or you have children together, that you not try to represent yourself. There are too many opportunities for things to go wrong in these circumstances.

Many individuals come to us after obtaining divorces without attorneys because situations arise which they did not anticipate at the time of their divorces, the agreements they signed were ambiguous or contained errors, or worse yet, did not accurately reflect their agreement. The help of an attorney familiar with real estate, business and children’s issues could have avoided many of these problems.

Do not trust yourself to deal with the complex legal issues when real estate, businesses or children are involved in your divorce. For those issues, you need a professional.