Situations in Which a Florida Court Can Craft a Parenting Plan that Alters Timesharing Based Upon Future Events

There are many things that parents likely want to accomplish with the outcome of any parental responsibility and timesharing case. Certainly, in order to facilitate stability for the child, one thing that you likely want is a lasting resolution. However, that can be complicated sometimes, given that life is fluid and circumstances change. When there are future changes in circumstances that you know are going to happen, you can plan ahead in order to deal with them in your timesharing order. In order to make sure that you get a parenting plan that best meets your child’s needs and protects your relationship with the child, be sure that you are working with an experienced Florida family law attorney.

J. and S. were a couple who had a timesharing case that involved an important future event: their child’s starting kindergarten. While the child had not started school at the time that the court entered a paternity, parental responsibility and timesharing order, that beginning of school was in the not-too-distant future. The trial court’s order on timesharing declared that the child should initially spend 50 percent of the time with each of the two parents. However, once the child began kindergarten, the timesharing schedule would cease to be workable, as the parents lived roughly 50 miles apart. The court order stated that, once school started, the father would have majority timesharing with the child, unless the mother moved closer to the father’s residence.

The mother opposed this ruling. One aspect that she challenged was the court’s ruling regarding what would transpire once the child began kindergarten. This part of the order was an improper “prospective” (in other words, future-looking) decision about proper timesharing. The trial court agreed and rescinded the previous timesharing order regarding what would happen after the child started kindergarten.

The appeals court reversed that ruling and ordered the reinstatement of the original final judgment. The law does not allow courts to make certain types of rulings related to timesharing that are tied to future events because judges do not have “a crystal ball that enables” the judge to foresee the best interests of the child at some unknown future juncture. However, the law does allow for timesharing judgments where the future event in question is objective and reasonably certain. In other words, the law does not allow judges to predict a child’s best interests in the future, because that would be too speculative. However, a ruling like the judgment in J. and S.’s case made the determination about timesharing during the child’s kindergarten year based on the child’s current best interests, not on some speculative prediction. That, the appeals court stated in its opinion, was allowable.

First and foremost, you want to make sure that any outcome of your family law case meets the needs of your child. You also want to make certain that the court’s order is one that will allow your relationship with your child to grow and flourish. To make sure that your case yields that kind of successful outcome, talk to the skilled South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our attorneys have been providing clients with useful advice and effective representation for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

When Your Florida Timesharing Dispute Can (and Cannot) Allow You to Recoup from Your Ex-Spouse the Cost of Your Attorney’s Fees, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, April 25, 2018

An Out-of-State Move and Your Florida Child Custody and Timesharing Arrangement, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, April 19, 2018