Jacksonville Visitation & Time-Sharing Attorneys

Need Help Establishing Visitation Rights? Call Owenby Law, P.A.

At Owenby Law, P.A., our Jacksonville family law attorneys represent parents of minor children in their pursuit to negotiate and establish parental visitation or time-sharing rights. In the state of Florida, excluding unusual situations where one parent is deemed to be a danger to his or her children, the courts have stated that both parents have the right to spend time with their children and participate in their upbringing.

However, because parents often disagree on the amount of time that a non-residential (minority time-sharing) parent should be allotted with the children, child custody lawyers will often need to negotiate a time-sharing or parenting plan to submit to the courts. At Owenby Law, P.A., we represent both residential and non-residential parents in visitation disputes. Contact our firm today to find out how we can assist you.

Need legal representation? Get started with a free initial consultation: (904) 770-3141.

VisitationUnderstanding the Purpose of a Time-Sharing Plan

While some parents are comfortable with foregoing a formal time-sharing plan, recent changes to the way child support is calculated in Florida have emphasized the need for formal agreements. If the non-custodial parent takes the child overnight for twenty percent of the time or more, it will reduce the amount of child support that they owe. That means that the time-sharing plan could have financial implications.

A time-sharing plan—formerly referred to in Florida as a "visitation arrangement"—is a formal agreement that outlines how much time the non-residential parent, or minority time-sharer, is able to spend with his or her children and the times when this visitation (time-sharing) will occur. At Owenby Law, P.A., our goal is to create a time-sharing plan that works for both parents.

The Pitfalls of Informal Time-Sharing Agreements

Without a written, court-approved child custody agreement, numerous issues can arise. First, a parent who would otherwise be entitled to child support may find it difficult to receive the stipend to which he or she is entitled. Similarly, a parent who is required to pay child support may be forced to pay the amount that is commensurate with the court order, even if he or she takes the child for a greater number of overnight stays.

The Florida Department of Revenue, which enforces child support for the state, bases their calculations on the number of overnight stays that the child spends with the custodial and non-custodial parents. There have recently been several court rulings affirming that informal agreements among parents will not compel the Department of Revenue to deviate from the prescribed child support schedule that it uses for its calculations.

An Example of Why Informal Time-Sharing Agreements Are a Bad Idea:

In a recent appeal filed by the Florida Department of Revenue, the First District Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's decision to decrease a father's child support obligations based upon a verbal arrangement between him and the mother. The parents in this case had a written, court-approved agreement where the father was to have the child 40% of the time. His child support calculation was based upon this arrangement.

The parents later verbally agreed for the father to increase his proportion of overnight stays, but never formalized this agreement in the family court. The father sought a downward adjustment in his support payments and won his case in civil court. That decision, however, was eventually overturned on appeal. The appellate court cited an earlier, similar decision in Sherman v. Daly and reiterated its stance on the matter.

Family Court Considerations in Shared-Time Arrangements

When considering how much visitation should be allowed in a time-sharing plan, family law courts strive to act in the best interest of the child. Judges are not likely to approve of plans that are disruptive to the child's health and education. For example, even if both parents agree to a custody exchange at 11:30 p.m. on school nights, a family law judge will probably consider that to be counter to the best interests of the child.

Contact Our Jacksonville Child Custody Lawyers for a Free Consultation!

Whether you are seeking a resolution to a time-sharing dispute or you require legal advice on another matter related to divorce, child custody, or child support, we have the insight and resources to assist you. At Owenby Law, P.A., we encourage parents of minor children to formalize all arrangements through the courts. As a full-service family law firm, our Jacksonville child custody attorneys have experience assessing the needs of our clients and can draft the required documents for presentation. We serve clients throughout northeastern Florida, so don't wait to call.

Reliable counsel is just a phone call away — please call our office as soon as possible.