FAMILY LAW: When it comes to child visitation, Florida has a new law, and it just went into effect on January 1, 2018. Florida law assumes that parents should have shared parental responsibility with their minor children, and this comes into play in child custody, paternity and divorce cases. Basically, a parent initiating such an action should assume the other parent will be awarded “shared custody,” unless the parent can prove it would be dangerous for the child to be with the other parent. This is stated in the most general sense, and the term “custody” is not normally used anymore.
Parents will have “shared custody” of their children in Florida.
But what about spending time with the children? Various terms have been used over the past few decades, but Florida law now uses the term “time sharing” to describe a parent’s visitation time with his or her minor child. Time sharing directly affects child support. For example, in a divorce case, the percentage of time a parent has with any particular child goes into a formula (using other factors such as monthly gross income) to calculate how much child support one parent may have to pay to another.
Previously, in its administrative actions, the Florida Department of Revenue (Child Support Enforcement) could initiate administrative actions designed to set up child support but, before this year, the DOR had no authority to set up time sharing or visitation. Now, it can.
Effective January 1, 2018, pursuant to the Florida Legislature’s work in 2017, DOR’s Child Support Program will incorporate parenting time plans, which have been agreed to and signed by both parents, into administrative orders that establish paternity or establish or modify support. Parenting time plans include a so-called “Standard Parenting Time Plan,” as well as other parenting time plans that have been agreed to and signed by the parents. Parenting time plans are taken into consideration when the amount of child support is calculated under Florida’s child support guidelines.
Once a parenting time plan is established and included in a child support order, changes to or enforcement of the plan may only be made by the court. The Child Support Program cannot modify or enforce a parenting time plan. According to the DOR, if parents do not have an agreed upon parenting time plan and do not agree to a parenting time plan at the time the administrative order is established or modified, a parenting time plan will not be included in the support order. In these cases, the Child Support Program will provide a form that can be used to petition more parenting time plan for each parent, which can be filed by either parent in court to establish a parenting time plan. See http://floridarevenue.com/childsupport/parenting_time_plans/Pages/default.aspx