As of October 2008, the Florida Statutes no longer reference the terms “custody” or “visitation” regarding the sharing of children’s time between parents. The Statutes now focus on time-sharing, parental responsibility, and the establishment of a parenting plan in such cases. The time-sharing, formerly known as visitation, for both parents is set forth in a comprehensive parenting plan agreement that will detail when each parent will exercise their time with the child. Further, the parenting plan will describe how the parents will share responsibility over major decisions made on behalf of the child including, but not limited to, healthcare, extra-curricular activities, education and how to share responsibility over general day to day decisions regarding the child. The court’s primary focus when ordering a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule is the best interests of the child. To determine the best interests of the child, the court will review the factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.13.
Either parent may file a petition to modify the parenting plan and time-sharing schedule after the entry of a final judgment by showing that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time the final judgment was entered by the Court and that a modification would be in the best interests of the child. Presently, there is no presumption in favor of a mother or a father for the majority of the time-sharing with the child, nor a schedule that awards each party fifty percent of the time with the child.