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Parenting Plans, Timesharing and Child Support

Lakeland Child Support Attorneys Ready to Help

After raising children together, the thought of suddenly doing it alone is nerve-racking and often unwelcome. However, the idea of losing time with your children is even more frightening. That’s why developing a parenting plan and timesharing schedule is often the most challenging and explosive part of negotiating a divorce agreement with an ex-partner. In some situations, both parties want what is best for their children—but both individuals feel that having full custody is what is best for their children. In other situations, one individual uses timesharing, sometimes referred to as custody, as a weapon against the other spouse.

No matter which situation you find yourself in as you start working through timesharing negotiations, having an experienced divorce attorney in Lakeland can make this process much easier and less stressful. To discuss your timesharing and parenting plan needs, call Darla K. Snead, P.L. to set up a consultation.

Parenting Plans

In Florida courts, officials strive to create an environment where a child has ongoing and meaningful contact with both parents. Ideally, both parents will share the responsibilities and privileges that come with parenting. That’s why divorcing couples must create a parenting plan that outlines how parenting obligations will be divided and how time will be split.

Timesharing is, of course, a significant part of a parenting plan. However, there are many other components you must include in a parenting plan, including:

  • Who will be responsible for daily parenting tasks
  • Who provides for the child’s healthcare
  • Whose address will be used to determine where the child attends school
  • How parents will communicate with the child when the child is in the other parent’s care
  • How will Holidays be split between the parents

Generally, it’s preferable for both parents to create this plan together and submit it to the court for approval. This allows them to maintain control over the process and make compromises where they choose, rather than having compromise forced on them by the court. With an experienced attorney by your side, this can often be accomplished at mediation.  If the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, the court will create one for them. The Court considers numerous factors, including:

  • Any history of abuse
  • The strength of the parent-child relationship on both sides
  • Each parent’s willingness to maintain the other parent’s relationship with the child
  • Who has historically provided for the child’s basic needs
  • Each parent’s other obligations
  • Each parent’s social support system
  • Each parent’s geographic location
  • How each plan protects the child’s stability
  • The child’s preference, depending on the child’s age

Timesharing

Discussing timesharing is a difficult task for many divorcing couples, and for good reason. Many parents are, for the first time, facing the possibility of suddenly losing unrestricted access to their child for certain periods of time. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that many parents react by clinging harder to their child and trying to get more custody than the other parent.

However, that’s exactly why it’s important to take the advice of a top family lawyer in Lakeland and work through this process as calmly as possible. When both parents know that the other parent will support their parenting time and do their best to create a functional co-parenting relationship, the urge to fight for full custody or timesharing often goes away. There are situations where it makes sense for one parent to have limited timesharing or where one party does not have the child’s best interests at heart, but generally, all parents want what is truly best for their child.

In Florida, the court begins with the presumption that both parents should have equal access to the child. This may lead to a week-on, week-off schedule or a 2-2-3, 2-2-3 schedule. Other options are also considered to best meet the needs of the child while still allowing the parents to work and meet their other obligations.

Beginning with the presumption of equal timesharing does not mean that every divorce or paternity case leads to a 50/50 timesharing split. In many situations, one parent does not want or can not exercise half of the parenting time, perhaps due to their work schedule or other obligations. In these cases, the parent who wants more timesharing or can exercise more timesharing often receives it and child support is adjusted accordingly. In some cases, a slight deviation from a 50/50 schedule allows both parents to spend plenty of time with their child while accommodating one parent who works more than the other.

When one parent has a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or other issues that bring into question their parenting abilities, it is unlikely that a 50/50 split will be recommended. In order to protect both the child and the other parent, the court may order supervised timesharing or a timesharing schedule that limits the amount of contact the parents have.

Child Support

Child support protects a child’s right to be financially supported by both parents. Some parents attempt to use child support as a bargaining chip during divorce, forgetting the fact that child support is not a privilege given to one parent; it is a child’s right.

Child support is often awarded in situations where one parent has significantly more time with the child than the other parent or when there is a major earning discrepancy. Ideally, a child support award should allow the child to maintain the same standard of living at both parents’ houses.

When determining child support, Florida courts use a specific set of guidelines. Factors considered include:

  • Timesharing agreement. A parent with no scheduled parenting time will pay the maximum amount in child support. Their obligation begins decreasing once their share of parenting time reaches 20% and continues decreasing as the timesharing obligations shift. Even with a 50/50 timesharing agreement, though, child support may still be awarded if there are income discrepancies.
  • The amount of children involved. The more minor children produced by a marriage, the higher the child support award will be.
  • Healthcare coverage. A child must have access to healthcare coverage. A child support award will account for that and require one parent to cover the cost of healthcare coverage, depending on which parent has better coverage through their job or another source.
  • Each parent’s income and earning ability. This is a significant factor in determining child support. Consider a divorcing couple with massive differences in income. If the couple has a 50/50 timesharing schedule, but one earns $10,000 per year and one earns $200,000 per year, the one earning $10,000 per year will still receive quite a bit of child support. This allows both parents to provide a similar standard of living for their children, which is what would have happened if the parents had remained married. Earning ability is also a factor; if one parent could reasonably get a job that pays $50,000 per year but they choose to work part-time and earn $12,000 per year, the court does not look favorably on that choice. They may require the parent to pay at the level they would pay at if they had a higher income. This discourages parents from remaining underemployed to avoid child support.

How Darla K. Snead Can Help You

Obviously, there is a lot at stake when it comes to this part of divorce. Each individual’s parenting rights and financial security are at stake, giving both parties significant motivation to fight hard to protect themselves. Darla K. Snead knows how these discussions and negotiations can weaken a strong co-parenting relationship and lead to unnecessary fights. As a Lakeland divorce attorney with over 23 years of experience in the field of law, she understands the emotional triggers that these topics hit and knows how to overcome them with careful, empathetic communication.

If you and your ex-partner both want what is best for your child but you are having difficulty expressing that, she can advocate for you and create an environment where an acceptable compromise is reached. If you are trying to co-parent with an individual who is determined to inconvenience or hurt you through this process, she will do whatever it takes to defend your parenting rights and protect your best interests.

Divorce is never easy, but going through it with a trusted support system has a positive impact on your stress levels. When you choose Darla K. Snead, you can feel comfortable reaching out with questions or concerns and discussing what you want to get out of the divorce process.

Reach Out Today and Learn More About Your Options

Ready to start working with one of the top divorce lawyers in Lakeland? Darla K. Snead, P.L. is here to help. Whether you are just getting started in the divorce process or you are revising a child support award, strong legal representation is crucial. Turn to someone you can trust to fight aggressively for you—call Darla K. Snead, P.L. or  contact us online now.

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