Florida Custody and Visitation Schedules
Your child custody and visitation schedule is important to you and to your child. Here's how to set up a Florida visitation schedule.
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
In the State of Florida, parents are encouraged to work together and submit a parenting plan to the court. Your parenting plan must include a time-sharing schedule that will define the time your child spends with each parent.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, the court will send the both of you to parenting conciliation to work out your differences and negotiate a plan.
If that form of dispute resolution does not work, or if the court does not accept the submitted parenting plan, the court will devise a parenting plan for you (§ 61.046.14, Fla. Stat. ).
There are two types of custody (referred to as "parental responsibility") in Florida:
- Shared parental responsibility means that both parents have complete parental rights and responsibilities. They agree to work together to jointly determine major decisions affecting the child (§ 61.046.17, Fla. Stat. ). The parents divide their time with the child in a manner that ensures the child has frequent, ongoing, regular contact with both parents. They do not necessarily have to share their time with the child equally.
- Sole parental responsibility means that only one parent will make decisions regarding the child. The child will typically live with the parent with sole parental responsibility for the majority of time, while the other parent will be able to exercise visitation rights (§ 61.046.18, Fla. Stat. ).
When creating a parenting schedule in Florida, the schedule should be based on what type of parental responsibility the parents have.
There is no set or standardized time-sharing schedule, so you are free to make your child's visitation schedule as you see fit.
Parents are encouraged to create a child visitation schedule, (referred to by Florida as a "time-sharing schedule") customized to meet the needs of their child. Some courts will have guidelines in place that you may review and make changes to.
The Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, for example, provides detailed guidelines. The court's suggested time-sharing schedules for parents with shared parental responsibility are:
- A rotating schedule of every other weekend, from picking up the child after school on Friday until returning the child to school on Monday, with the other parent having the child the two days before and after the other parent's weekend.
- Week to week, from Monday afternoon until the following Monday morning (if the child is in school or day care).
- Week to week, from Monday afternoon until the following Monday morning (if the child is in school or day care), with an overnight with the other parent mid-week, from Wednesday evening until Thursday morning.
- During summer months for school aged children, an alternating schedule of two weeks with each parent.
The Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida's suggested schedule for child-time sharing when a parent has sole parental responsibility is:
- Every other weekend from Friday after school until 6 p.m. Sunday, and
- One week night per week from after school until 8:30 p.m.
- If a weekend should happen to be a three day weekend due to a holiday that is not listed on the holiday schedule, the parent with visitation should have the child the entire weekend until Monday at 6 p.m.
Each local court will have their own guidelines that may be considered, but ultimately, you are free to create any schedule that you feel will best meet the needs of your child.
A child visitation schedule should also consist of the following elements:
- A regular residential schedule that shows where the child will live and when he or she will spend time with each parent
- A schedule for holidays and special occasions
- A vacation schedule
Many parents simply rotate and alternate the holidays, but the schedule can be customized to accommodate family traditions, religious holidays, and other special days.
Mother's Day, Father's Day, and birthdays may be included in the schedule. School breaks and personal vacation times should also be accounted for.
Including as many details as possible in the time-sharing schedule will prevent any future conflict that may occur.
Regardless of the type of visitation or the conditions of the time-sharing schedule, the State of Florida recognizes the need for a child to have meaningful, ongoing relationships with both parents.
As parents, you are expected to act reasonably and make an effort to provide as much direct contact and positive involvement as possible between the child and the other parent, which includes the child's activities. You aren't expected to sit with your ex at your child's soccer game, but both of you should be afforded the opportunity to attend the event.
The law also provides additional methods of communication between a parent and child besides physical visitation:
- A right to reasonable telephone access will normally be included in a court order (§ 61.13003.1(b), Fla. Stat. ).
- An order may also be made to allow electronic communication between the child and the parents (§ 61.13003.1(a), Fla. Stat. ).
Prior to ordering electronic communication, the court will consider whether or not it is in the best interest of the child, the feasibility of electronic communications, and whether or not facilitating the communication would place a financial burden on a parent.
These forms of communication are not to be considered a substitute for actual time spent with the child. They are merely used as a supplement to help ensure your child is able to have access to and enhanced relationships with both of you.
The top twenty cities in Florida (by population, Census Bureau, 2008) are: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee, Cape Coral, Port St. Lucie, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Gainesville, Miano Gardens, Miramar, Clearwater, Pompano Beach, Palm Bay, Spring Hill.