THE HISTORY OF THE MISCONCEPTION THAT 50/50 OR “EQUAL” TIME SHARING IN FLORIDA IN CHILD CUSTODY CASES IS THE STANDARD AND IN THE BEST INTEREST OF CHILDREN
Thirty years ago, it was standard for judges to grant child custody of minor children to mothers just on the basis that the children were of a young age. There was the “custodial” and “noncustodial” parent and the “noncustodial parent”, who more often than not was the father, was granted visitation rights. “Joint Child Custody” or “Rotating Child Custody” was frowned upon and very rarely granted as it was the feeling of the times that the children needed to be in a stable environment.
As the years went on, the “custodial” and “noncustodial” parent label was replaced by the “primary residential parent” and “secondary residential parent” with the same overall theme that one parent provided the more stable home environment than the other parent.
Finally, in 2008, the legislature, in an attempt to neutralize the powers of either parent over the other, came up with the idea of a “parenting plan” where neither party was assigned any label but a specific schedule with a specific number of overnights per year had to be assigned to each parent. The child support statute was also redesigned so that child support is now calculated based upon overnights each parent has with the children. The higher percentage of overnights that the higher income earning parent has equates to a lesser amount of child support that he or she has to pay to the other parent. As a result, higher income earning parents are pursuing 50/50 timesharing arrangements even if not in the best interest of the children; that is, even when historically during the marriage, that parent’s role was of “bread-winner” versus “homemaker.”
Since the 2008 amendment, there was a bill proposed, but not passed, that would have supported the proposition that it is in the best interest of minor children of divorced and/or separated parents to have their time equally split between the parents; that is, 50/50 time sharing. This would have meant that 50/50 would be automatic unless fought in court. As a result, there is a MISCONCEPTION that 50/50 time sharing in Florida is the standard and automatic.
The lesser income parent should not fall into this “trap” when negotiating parenting plans. The courts still are analyzing cases on an individual basis and if the lesser income parent has been the traditional homemaker then 50/50 is probably not in the best interest of the minor children. It is very important, before coming to any agreement on a parenting plan that you consult with a divorce attorney Tampa as agreeing to 50/50 could jeopardize the quality of time the children are used to having with each parent as well as their financial well being when spending time with the lesser income earning parent.