Timesharing of children can be a difficult issue lasting many years. Here are five tools to help timesharing run smoothly for you and your children:
1. Scheduling Timesharing
Weekly Timesharing: For parents living close to each other, a common timesharing plan is week on/week off. Under this plan, the parents alternate timesharing on a weekly basis, creating a roughly 50-50 split of timesharing. Timesharing plans can also give one parent more time if in the children’s best interest.
Holidays/School Breaks: Timesharing plans can also allow for timesharing changes during holidays or school breaks. For instance, plans often allow the mother to have the children on Mother’s Day and the father to have the children on Father’s Day. Shorter breaks like Thanksgiving and spring break can be divided between the parents or alternated each year. Longer breaks like winter and summer break are generally divided between the parents.
Long Distance: For parents living further apart, weekly timesharing may not be practical due to travel time and expenses. In this case, one parent may have the majority of timesharing during the school year so that the children can remain close to their school. To make up for lack of timesharing during the school year, the other parent can receive more timesharing during holidays and school breaks.
2. Coordinating Child Exchanges
Exchange Location: Timesharing plans can set the location of the exchanges of children. Locations can be set in public places to discourage potential confrontations between the parents. It often works well to have the exchanges at the school or daycare. One parent drops off the children in the morning. The other parent picks up the children at the end of the school day. This avoids tensions which can occur when separated parents meet.
Exchange Time: Timesharing plans also set the specific time for exchanges. This provides a consistent time for the parents to exchange the children.
3. Timesharing Accountability
Waiting Period: Timesharing plans can also limit the time a parent has to wait at the exchange location. A plan may provide that the parent with the children does not have to wait longer than one hour. The parent who does not show up to the exchange loses timesharing for that day.
Right of First Refusal: When the parent with timesharing cannot care for the children during scheduled timesharing, plans can require the parent to contact the other parent first to see about taking the children. These plans give the parent without timesharing the first right to be with their children when the other parent is busy and also the right to refuse if that parent already has other plans or obligations.
Child Support: Timesharing plans provide a specific amount of overnights each parent has with the children during each year. The amount of overnight is quantified by percentages. For example if both parents have the same amount of overnights, the plan is known as a 50/50 plan. The percentage of overnights is used to calculate the amount of child support the parents pay or provide. Sometimes a parent may get behind on their payment of child support. A parent who fails to pay the support payment does not loose timesharing. A parent cannot withhold a child for timesharing just because the other parent is late on the child support payment. In addition, a parent failing to fulfill timesharing does not lose the right to receive child support payments. To resolve these issues, parents should seek legal assistance rather than withholding timesharing or child support payments.
4. Timesharing Flexibility
Temporary Changes By Agreement: For necessary flexibility, the plan can include a provision that the parents may alter the timesharing schedule as long as it is convenient, appropriate, and in the children’s best interest. However, any temporary changes should be agreed to by both parents and put in writing.
Permanent Changes By Court Order: Changes agreed to by the parents are only on a temporary basis and often used in situations such as illness or extended work. Any permanent changes to a timesharing plan must be done by court order.
5. Travel And Relocation
Travel: If a parent plans to travel outside the state during scheduled timesharing, a plan can require that parent to provide the other parent an itinerary. The itinerary should include travel locations and contact information. For travel outside the country, a timesharing plan may also require the written consent of the other parent.
Relocation: Florida law requires parents planning to relocate more than fifty miles from their current residence to either obtain the written agreement of the other parent or court approval. The petition to the court must provide the location and contact information of the planned relocation, the reasons for relocating, and how timesharing will continue.