Many people commence a divorce or paternity case with the impression that 50/50 timesharing/visitation automatically is in the best interest of their child. However, this premise does not take into account that each family is unique and has its own individual dynamics and circumstances.
Children show the best adjustment in divorce or paternity cases where there is a cooperative co‑parenting, shared responsibility (shared decision-making) and limited conflict between the parents.
Florida 50/50 Timesharing – Visitation
Children should have substantial contact with both parents. However, this does not mean that an equal timesharing/visitation arrangement is best for all children. The focus of any parent engaged in a divorce or paternity action should be upon the quality of the relationships (both between the parents themselves and between the parents and the children and each child). Quality is not always determined by the amount of time a child spends with you as a parent. There are a number of circumstances in which 50/50 timesharing/visitation may not be in the best interest of the child. Those circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- Special needs of a child. One parent may be better suited to deal with a child’s special need/developmental disability than the other parent. Such situations with children include ADHD, anxiety, autism, developmental delays, and other related developmental and physical special needs;
- Geographical facts of the parents’ residences. If the parents live any substantial distance apart from one another, then a 50/50 timesharing/visitation schedule would require onerous and troublesome travel for a child during the school year. The child would have difficulty traveling from each parent’s home to school. It seems implausible that children should be on the road at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. to attend their chosen school. It also will make it difficult for the child to participate in extracurricular activities and maintain friendships that the child develops at school. Parents, who are divorcing or separating, need to remember that as children grow older, their peer relationships become more and more important. Also, consistent excellent academic performance by students requires adequate rest and a consistent schedule that meets their needs. 50/50 timesharing/visitation cannot provide that in all circumstances;
- Some family dynamics are not suited for a 50/50 timesharing/visitation schedule. For instance, when one parent is largely absent from the home and the caregiver role, the other spouse has had to act as the role of the primary caregiver for the child. Particularly where children are young, it would be highly disruptive to them to change this type of dynamic. In addition, a parent who has been largely absent from the home and caregiver role during the marriage is likely to continue to be largely absent from the home and the caregiver role at the conclusion of the divorce, despite the court’s order for a 50/50 timesharing/visitation. This would result in the primary caregiver having to care for the child without receiving child support to offset the increased expenses of providing extra care; and
- A Florida 50/50 timesharing/visitation schedule assumes that all parent-child attachments are the same. Research, over the past decades has conclusively proven that not all attachments between parents and their children are equal. There is a hierarchy of attachments which need to be recognized.
Exceptions to 50/50 Florida Timesharing
It’s a common adage in life that any generality will have its exceptions. Any generality, which proclaims that Florida 50/50 timesharing/visitation is best for all children, also contains exceptions. Psychological research regarding children and divorce reaches the same conclusion. There is no psychological research that supports equal timesharing/visitation as being the best for all children and all families. Consequently, divorcing or separating parents should always be aware that they should be seeking a timesharing/visitation schedule for their child which is in their child’s best interests. Parents should not be caught up in any premise that assumes a particular schedule for timesharing/visitation fits all families. Each family should be attempting to devise a timesharing/visitation schedule that is in the best interest of their children and best suits their family’s situation and circumstances.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.