Custody, Timesharing, and the Holidays in Florida

It is once again fast approaching the “Holiday Season” time of year. For many people, especially those with children, that can mean hosting family from out of town or making travel arrangements to visit faraway relatives. For some families, though, the holidays are more complicated. For divorced parents with minor children, reaching a workable solution for the holidays can be challenging and, sometimes, may even require the involvement of the courts, as one recent South Florida case exemplified. If your holiday visitation situation has become so complex that it seems like it may require litigation, you should make sure you have skilled Florida child custody counsel on your side.

One important thing to remember if you are going through a paternity case or a divorce case is that Florida law clearly states that both parents should receive shared parental responsibility unless the judge makes a finding “that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.” In the majority of cases, the judge is not going to make such a finding and is going to order shared parental responsibility for the child.

Additionally, courts have wide latitude when it comes to timesharing orders. A court can even order that one parent receive no visitation with a child. However, that occurs only in a small fraction of cases. In the large majority in which visitation is awarded, the non-custodial parent has certain rights when it comes to getting the children (or child) over the holidays.

In this recent case from Broward County, the father received timesharing, but the court made no order with regard to holiday visitation. As the appeals court explained in sending the case back to the trial court, a non-custodial parent’s right to have the child on rotating holidays (except in cases of no visitation at all) is something that has become so routine that any trial judge who denies a non-custodial parent rotating holiday visitation must make express factual findings in the order that explain the basis for not awarding rotating holiday visitation.

For many people, the “little ones” who are the pride and joy in their lives have four legs, rather than two. A lot of people view their cats, dogs, and other pets as not just companions but members of the family. This may present challenges for how to deal with custody and visitation of the pets in the event of a divorce.

Regardless of how people view their pets, though, Florida law takes a more traditional view on the status of these creatures. To date, only one Florida court of appeals case has addressed the issue of pet visitation. That 22-year-old decision threw out a trial court order that, as part of a divorce case, had established a visitation schedule for Roddy, the couple’s dog, that covered both weekends and Christmases. The appeals court ruling declared that pets were personal property, so courts did not have the power to award visitation with regard to a piece of personal property.

Certainly, the best solution to any timesharing dispute, including a dispute over holiday visitation, is for the parents to work together collaboratively for the benefit of the child. Nevertheless, in many situations, whether those situations lead to involving the courts or not, it pays to have a Florida family law attorney representing you throughout the process. The helpful South Florida child custody attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have assisted clients and their families in achieving positive solutions for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

Florida Parenting Plan Disputes and Helping Parents Get a Chance to be Heard in Court, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Sept. 18, 2015

Father’s Failure to Return Daughter to Florida on Time Allows for Alteration of Parenting Plan, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Feb. 18, 2015