When parents separate, a positive outcome is that both parents try to work together to share the rights, responsibilities, and pleasures associated with childrearing. However, it's not always easy to resolve issues of custody and visitation. Fortunately, if a parent has to make arrangements for visitation, they can turn to state law for guidance.
Florida refers to custody arrangements and visitation as "time-sharing." Parents must establish the responsibilities for the everyday duties related to raising a child, including the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the child will spend with each parent. Florida law not only allows, but encourages parents to design their own parenting plans; if parents cannot agree on a schedule, then the court will establish this.
Florida Visitation Rights at a Glance
Understanding the letter of the law of any statute is crucial. However, reading a plain language version can also assist in truly comprehending the law. The chart below provides a short summary of Florida's visitation rights statute.
- Florida Civil Practice and Procedure 61.13 (2)(a)
Factors affecting the child's welfare
All decisions establishing, approving, or modifying a parenting agreement must be made in accordance with the child's best interests. The way that is determined is by evaluating factors that affect the welfare and interests of the child and the specific family situation. The factors include, but are not limited to the following:
- Demonstrated capacity of each parent to encourage a frequent and continuing parent-child relationship to honor the time-sharing schedule and to be reasonable when changes are required;
- Demonstrated capacity of each parent to consider the child's needs rather than their own;
- Time frame in which child has lived in stable environment and the need to maintain continuity;
- Geographic viability of the parenting plan, with emphasis on travel time necessary to effectuate the plan;
- Moral fitness of the parents;
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect regardless of whether a prior or pending action related to those issues has been brought; and
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to participate in the child's school/extracurricular activities.
Items to include in the parenting plan
- Residential Schedule (everyday schedule): Reflects when the child is with each parent on weekdays and weekends.
- Holiday Schedule: Shows which parent is with the child for holidays.
- Summer Vacation Schedule: Shows when the child is with each parent during summer vacation.
Modification of a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule requires a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change of circumstances. For example, drug relapses or military deployment.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Florida Child Visitation Rights: Related Resources
Discuss Visitation Rights with a Florida Attorney
Creating a parenting agreement that is best for the specific needs of your child can be difficult to achieve. It helps to get meaningful insight from a skilled professional. If you need to know more about your visitation rights in Florida, then talk to a family law attorney near you.