Family Law

Child Custody (Timesharing)

Child custody in Florida is called timesharing. Both parties are entitled to participate in the lives of their children after a divorce and during the process.

Whether your case is a divorce with minor children or a case establishing paternity, the court will require a document called a parenting plan; a parenting plan describes in detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child, the timesharing schedule (who, what, where, and when) and other important considerations involving your children such as healthcare costs, school-related matters and extra-curricular activities.

Other more serious factors, such as physical, mental, and substance abuse by either parent are contributing factors in the determination of a timesharing schedule. Zisser Family Law works with an experienced network of psychologists, parenting coordinators, and counselors to help reach a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.

The courts in the Jacksonville and surrounding counties have adopted two sets of timesharing schedule guidelines, local and long distance, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own.

Adoption

This is a legal creation of a parent-child relationship between those who are not biologically related. It can be a step-parent adoption, in which one parent in the marriage adopts the biological child(ren) of his or her spouse. The adoptive parent assumes rights, responsibilities and obligations as if the child were his or her own.

Relocation

A parent may be required to follow specific procedures before moving residences, depending on whether the other parent agrees or disagrees to the relocation. A change of location is considered to be 50 or more miles away from their primary residence and for a period of at least 60 consecutive days, excluding temporary absences (vacation, education and healthcare). Florida’s Relocation statute applies to you even if you only have timesharing every other weekend or even once a month.

If the other parent agrees to the relocation, then the process is easy. The requirements of the relocation statute by signing a written agreement that reflects the consent to the relocation, defines the timesharing schedule for the non-relocating parent and describes the transportation arrangements, if necessary. The court can enter the agreement without the necessity of an evidentiary hearing, unless a hearing is timely requested by either party.

If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, then a parent seeking relocation must file a petition to relocate and serve it upon the other parent. The petition must comply with very specific requirements and failure to abide by these requirements could result in a dismissal of your case. A response to the petition must be made in writing, filed with the court and served on the parent seeking to relocate within 20 days. If the other parent fails to timely file a response objecting to the petition to relocate then it is presumed the relocation is in the best interest of the child and the relocation will be allowed, and the court will, absent good cause, enter an order adopting the timesharing schedule and transportation arrangements contained in the petition. If a response is timely filed, the case will proceed to a temporary hearing or trial to determine whether the relocation will be allowed.

Third-Party Parenting Issues (Grandparents and Relatives)

A common question that our Jacksonville Florida divorce attorneys receive is whether grandparents or other relatives have a right to custody (also known as “timesharing”) or access to a child.

Florida law recognizes that many minor children live with and are well cared for by members of their extended families, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins and even step parents. The parents of these children often leave their children with another family member who is better able to care for them. However, most family members are not fully able to provide care to the children because they lack a legal document that explains and defines their relationship to the child; therefore, the family members are unable to do all things necessary for the care of the child, such as enrolling the child in school, obtaining medical and other records and consenting to all reasonable and necessary medical decisions for the child. As a result, the Florida legislature enacted Chapter 751, Temporary Custody of Minor Children by Extended Family, to provide for the welfare of a minor child who is living with extended family members.

Under Chapter 751, a family member may seek temporary custody of a child if it is proven the child has been abused, abandoned or neglected. A family member may also be awarded temporary custody upon the consent of the parents. In order to bring an action to determine the temporary custody of a minor child.

For more information about obtaining an order for temporary custody or whether you qualify as an extended family member, read Statute 751 or contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our Family Law attorneys.