A number of judges in Broward and Miami Dade county courts have begun ordering divorcing parents to use third-party websites designed to effectively manage scheduling for their children. Websites such as OurFamilyWizard.com and ShareKids.com allow parents to maintain an online calendar to communicate important events, appointments and custody hand-offs. The technology can often eliminate the need for parents to call, text, or email one another during times of discord. The websites can also provide parents with an incentive to restrict highly emotional or vindictive communications because messages cannot be erased and all communications may be traced. Additionally, such technology may cut down on time spent in court as the websites may be viewed by divorce mediators, lawyers and judges.
Scheduling websites for divorced parents are popular. OurFamilyWizard.com was started in 2001 and currently has more than 20,000 subscribers hailing from all 50 states and some foreign countries. It provides parents with a shared calendar, expense logs, a place to list significant telephone numbers, a message board accessible to children as well as parents, and space to upload and view documents like report cards and school awards. Courts in more than 35 states currently order its use. ShareKids.com, founded by a divorced father of four, offers many of the same features.
Broward County’s administrative family court judge, Susan Greenhawt, believes other forms of communication such as emails and texts are not always an effective method for parents to communicate productively. She thinks scheduling websites have the ability to assist parents who are seeking what is best for their children. Miami-Dade chief family court judge Sandy Karlan has stated most judges in the county have been recommending the technology to parents for years. Many judges also order its use. Both judges said they generally encounter little opposition from parents who are ordered to use the online scheduling websites. Parents who divorced before use of the technology became widespread may also find the sites useful.
In Florida, custody arrangements are referred to as time-sharing. A parenting plan that includes a time-sharing schedule is established when parents divorce. This plan will outline the amount of time each week a child will spend with each parent including overnights and holidays. If parents cannot agree on a time-sharing plan, the court will set a schedule which takes into account several statutory factors such as abuse or violence and the child’s preference. In order to modify a time-sharing plan, Florida law requires a parent seeking modification to show circumstances have changed substantially enough to justify the change.
If you are a parent in the midst of divorce, choosing the right family law attorney is important. Our Miami divorce lawyer can guide you through the custody process and assist you in reaching a negotiated time-sharing plan. If a time-sharing plan cannot be agreed upon, we can also help you understand the various statutory factors a court will look to and your options as a parent.
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Mother Who Kidnapped Broward Toddler Detained In Middle East, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, August 29, 2011
Cyber mediation, by Julie K. Brown, Miami Herald