The Florida Bar
American Bar Association
Weston Florida Chamber of Commerce

The Elimination of the Custody Designation in the State of Florida

Recently the Florida Legislature made changes to the existing laws of the State of Florida and removed the designations of Custody and Visitation. Whereas in the past parents embroiled in Family Law litigation fought aggressively to be the Primary Residential Parent or Custodian or Parents fought for their visitation rights.

Today, parents in Family Law litigation have time-sharing and Parenting Plans are reached or ordered which establish who the children are to stay with and when.

Visitation as a right no longer exists and a parent who has time-sharing with a child is “requires” to see that child.

Custody as a term was used and fought to obtain an element of control over the life of the child and people fought to gain this control.

Custody no longer exists.

The amount of time that a parent time shares has a direct impact on their child support as well (so long as the parent has at least 20% of the overnight visitation per month).

Visitation and Child Support were previously seen as independent issues and a parent could not deny visitation rights, because the other parent failed to pay child support and the opposite was also true. A parent could not fail to pay child support, because the other parent denied their visitation rights.

Today, time-sharing has a direct impact on Child Support and both are mandatory.

The Courts now have the authority to hold an individual in Contempt of Court for denying time-sharing and also to hold someone in Contempt of Court for failure to exercise his or her time-sharing.

The Court can sanction a parent who refuses to honor the time-sharing schedule in the parenting plan without proper cause by:

  1. After calculating the amount of time-sharing improperly denied, award the parent denied time a sufficient amount of extra time-sharing to compensate for the time-sharing missed.
  2. May order the parent who did not provide time-sharing or did not properly exercise time-sharing to pay reasonable Court costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the non-offending parent to enforce the time-sharing schedule.
  3. Many order the parent who did not provide time-sharing or did not properly exercise time-sharing to attend a parenting course approved by the a judicial circuit.
  4. Can order the parent who did not provide time-sharing or did not properly exercise time-sharing to do community service.
  5. Parents who do not comply with the time-sharing plans may result in a Modification of the parenting Plan or Contempt of Court.

These changes in the Laws of the State of Florida were created to prevent excessive litigation in the State of Florida. As an experienced Family Law Attorney, I believe these changes will create additional litigation, not less as anticipated.

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