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Family Law Reform in Florida: What Parents Should Know About the State’s New Child Time-Sharing Law


Earlier this year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that reformed our state’s child time-sharing laws. For divorced or separated parents who share young children, it is crucial that you understand the impact of these reforms. Here, our Clearwater child custody attorney provides a detailed account of the key things separated parents should know about the new time-sharing law in Florida.

Background: Best Interests of the Child Remains Cornerstone of Time-Sharing

Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 61.13), child custody and visitation cases are made with consideration to the best interests of the child. Indeed, for many years, Florida family courts have made decisions with the child’s best interests as the guiding principle. The new child time-sharing law does not change this fact. Courts in Florida will handle time-sharing cases with a focus on promoting the well-being, safety, and emotional health of the child(ren).

The Reform: Florida Now Presumes 50/50 Time-Sharing is in the Best Interests of the Child 

Here is what has changed in Florida: Equal parenting time (50/50 time-sharing) is now presumed to be in the child’s best interests as a matter of state law. In other words, a court reviewing a child custody/child visitation case must presume that it is in the best interests of that child for his or her parents to have 50/50 time-sharing. To be clear, this is a rebuttable presumption. Florida courts can, and will, deviate from this presumption based on the unique circumstances of each case. Still, the reform has huge implications for child time-sharing cases in Florida. It is likely that more divorce/separation cases involving parents will end with a 50/50 time-sharing arrangement.

 Equal Time-Sharing is Not Guaranteed (Specific Facts of Case Always Matter)

 While the reform provides a foundational expectation of 50/50 time-sharing, it does not guarantee it for every family. Quite the contrary, Florida law is clear that one parent can be awarded primary physical custody of a child—primary time-sharing rights—if that is in the best interests of that child. Indeed, a parent can still be awarded sole legal custody rights in Florida. The specific facts and nuances of each case always play a pivotal role in the court’s final decision.

For example, if one parent has a history of substance abuse or domestic violence, the court can decide that a 50/50 split is not in the child’s best interest. That parent may only be granted limited visitation rights, perhaps even supervised visitation rights. Beyond that, practical considerations, such as the geographical distance between the parents’ residences or the location of the child’s school location, could also result in an unequal time-sharing arrangement.

 Contact Our Clearwater, FL Child Custody & Time-Sharing Attorney Today

At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our Clearwater child custody and child time-sharing lawyer is standing by, ready to protect your parental rights and help you find the best solutions. If you have any questions about the new time-sharing rules, we are here to help. Contact us today to set up your strictly confidential, consultation. We represent parents throughout Pinellas County.

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