In 2008 the laws changed and the terms visitation and custody are no longer used in a legal sense. Rather, the new law now combines these two terms into what is now called “time sharing”. Under the new law, custody and visitation are not necessarily presumed to favor either parent. Courts favor this new view as parents generally must make more mutual decisions when it comes to important decision such as the child’s school, healthcare, travel, dental care, summer vacation, and religion. It is with this backdrop in mind that the judiciary encourages the parents of the minor child or children to work out a mutually agreed upon time sharing plan.
Under the new law a time sharing plan, or parenting plan, is required by the parties. This plan lays out the agreement between the parents and addresses the previously referenced items such as healthcare or the child, residence of the child, and religion of the child. This is only a small portion of what is addressed in a parenting plan and the actual list can be quite exhaustive. The main thing to remember about a parenting plan is that it encourages the welfare and mutual upbringing of the child is to be made on a joint decision making basis by both of the child’s parents.
Most parents have a mutual love of their child and genuinely want the best for their child or children. With this in mind we do find that many times both parents can negotiate a mutually agreed upon parenting plan while still protecting the majority of their interests. This usually occurs with the assistance of the respective lawyers on each side of the case working out a mutually agreed upon resolution for a plan over a period of time. As the negotiation process continues each parent may find they did not get everything they wanted however there were able to get many of the important items in the plan they care about most and feel they can comfortably live with the overall outcome of the time sharing agreement. For questions about this area of law contact an experienced custody lawyer in Jacksonville for help today.
Unfortunately, sometimes one parent will have unrealistic demands that hinder the process. Other times both parents may have a real desire to work out an acceptable parenting plan only to find the hurt feelings from the former marriage or relationship have clouded the entire process. If the parties cannot agree upon an acceptable plan the issues involved may have to be heard before the Court. These matters are heard before the Court in the form of a full hearing that is basically a trial, without jury, in front of a Judge in the judicial system. An aggressive custody lawyer in Jacksonville can be a great asset in any legal matter where time sharing is an issue.
At the hearing, each side will make their arguments, introduce evidence, object to evidence, and make a final argument before the tribunal. At the close of the hearing the Court will render a decision that will be binding on the parties. It is ultimately the client’s decision as to whether they will have a formal hearing or whether they decide to agree to a stipulated parenting plan. Our firm’s job is to diligently follow the client’s wishes after full consultation. To the end, an aggressive Jacksonville divorce lawyer can help you in your time of need.
As stated previously, when the parties cannot mutually agree on a parenting plan for the child or children the Court must determine an appropriate plan for them. The Court will weigh many factions in reaching its determination as to what is in the best interests of the child. This determination is based on such factors as the moral fitness of either parent, the mental and physical health of either parent, the geographical viability or the respective parent’s homes, the prior demonstrated and proven ability of each respective parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, the ability of each respective parent to communicate with each other, and any substance or alcohol abuse by either parent. This is not an exhaustive list as the judiciary can look into a variant of other factors. For assistance interpreting the new law contact a skilled Jacksonville custody attorney to learn about all of your parental rights.