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Types of Time Sharing

The term “custody” is no longer utilized in Florida law. Instead, Tampa, Orlando and the rest of Florida refer to custody as “time sharing.” Both parents will have time sharing with the child unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Evidence that a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence creates a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child. This is unusual and parents can still be entitled to “supervised time sharing,” even if they are not awarded traditional time sharing.  Fla. Stat. § 61.13. There are three main types of time sharing that we will explore below: (1) Majority Time Sharing, (2) Equal Time Sharing and (3) Supervised Time Sharing. 

Majority Time Sharing

A majority time sharing arrangement refers to when one parent has a majority of overnights (50.1% or more) with the child during the year. The parent with the majority of overnights is commonly referred to as the primary residential parent. For example, if throughout the year, the child stays with the mother for 4 nights every week, but with the father every weekend, then the mother has majority time sharing.

Equal Time Sharing

An equal time sharing arrangement refers to a scenario where both parents have an equal number of overnights during the year. An example of this would be if the child alternates which parent they stay with every other week. This is generally less common than a majority time sharing arrangement.

Supervised Time Sharing

In rare and extreme cases, when there are allegations or prior instances of family violence, child abuse, neglect, untreated severe mental health disorders, drug abuse or alcohol dependence, a judge may decide that a third person should be present for any visits between a parent and child. This arrangement is referred to as supervised time sharing.

The court can order supervised visitation by family members/friends or via formal supervised visitation programs.  When it is a formal supervised situation, these third parties are often social workers or other qualified professionals who monitor the physical and emotional well-being of the child during visitation.  In most cases, the supervisor will sit quietly through the visit while taking notes.  The monitor will only interrupt the visit if it becomes necessary to protect the safety of the child or the parent.

Normally, supervised visitation and the manner in which it is to occur is court ordered. However, if there is an agreement, the parents may choose which family member, friend, provider or agency will facilitate the supervised visitation. The cost associated with the utilization of these services is not borne by the court or any other government agency. Thus, the parent seeking visitation normally must assume the costs unless the parents come to some other arrangement. Additionally, the time sharing agreement will likely contain restrictions on communication with the child outside of the visitation and transportation restrictions with the child during the visit.

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