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Understanding ‘Time Sharing’ and ‘Parental Responsibility’ in Florida


In most situations, when a couple has a child together and then breaks up, it is well known that each parent has the right to spend time with the child. Sometimes, one parent is awarded sole custody but in most cases, judges throughout the country try to uphold the parental rights of each party.

Many people refer to these arrangements as ‘child custody,’ even here in Florida. However, in the Sunshine State, what was once known as child custody is now referred to as ‘time sharing’ and ‘parental responsibility’. So, what do these terms mean and why the change in the law? Below, our Orlando child custody and time sharing lawyer explains further.

What is Time Sharing and Parental Responsibility? 

While Florida did use the term ‘child custody’ at one time, the terms were changed to ‘time-sharing’ and ‘parental responsibility’ in 2008. The term ‘visitation,’ which was once used in the Florida Statutes has now been replaced with ‘time-sharing’. Time-sharing refers to the amount of time each parent will spend with the child. In ideal situations, parents can agree to a time-sharing plan that will outline where the child will spend weekdays, weekends, holidays, and special occasions. When parents cannot agree, the court will make all final decisions.

Parental responsibility, on the other hand, has replaced the term ‘custody’ in Florida law. Parental responsibility refers to which parent has the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf, such as the education they receive, the medical treatment they receive, and the religion the child is raised in. As with all decisions involving children, the court will start any case with the presumption that it is in the best interest of the child for both parents to share parental responsibility fairly equally.

Why was the Law Changed? 

Many people still refer to parental responsibility and time-sharing as ‘child custody’ and when there is a dispute, they are surprised to learn that Florida law no longer uses these terms. The reason for it, though, is very practical.

The term ‘custody’ is often used to refer to ownership and possession. While parents do not typically think that they own their child, this type of language reinforces the idea that they do. The law changed the terminology to reflect the idea that children should never be thought of as possessions. The term ‘visitation’ was also changed to ‘time-sharing’ because parents should never be thought of as visitors in the life of their child. Instead, they should have an active parenting role in their child’s life.

Our Child Custody and Time-Sharing Attorney in Orlando Can Help with Your Case 

Although the terms in the Florida Statutes have changed, parents still want to spend as much time as possible with their children, even when they are no longer in a relationship with the other parent. At Anderson & Ferrin, P.A., our Orlando child custody and time-sharing lawyer can advise on your case and help you obtain the best outcome possible. Call us today at 407-412-7041 or reach out to us online to request a free consultation and to learn more.


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