If your time sharing rights are at risk, you can save them.
Divorce can be an agreeable affair where both parents agree on what is best for their children and both get through the proceedings without harming the parent-child relationship. But let’s be serious: most divorces are not agreeable affairs.
Perhaps one of the biggest areas of disagreement is whether the parents should share custody of the child through time sharing or if one parent should have sole custody. This question can make divorce unpleasant, stressful and heartbreaking, especially for the child.
Parents want what is best for their children, but what one parent believes is best for the child may not necessarily be what the divorce court will agree with. In Florida, the courts want the child to share equal time with both parents when possible. The court will always have a purpose to act in the child’s best interest. However, if the court determines the child is not safe with one parent, time sharing will come to an immediate end.
If one parent is determined to gain sole custody of the child, they have to show, among other things, that time sharing with the other parent is not healthy or safe for the child. Here is what you can do if your ex is trying to take time sharing away from you and gain sole custody of your child.
Meeting the child’s needs
As we said before, the court’s purpose is to act in the child’s best interest. You will need to show the court that you are capable of meeting your child’s developmental and emotional needs. Establish for the court that you know your child’s day-to-day routine, their interest in sports or science or music, who their friends are and any extracurricular activities they are involved in.
Basically, show the court that you are a part of your child’s life and not a mere bystander. Provide the court with a feasible parenting plan that you and your ex could follow that will cause very little disruption to your child’s life. You must show the court that your child’s life will be balanced and stable with time sharing.
Providing a safe environment
A court could easily grant your ex sole custody if they can show that the child is not safe with you, or that spending time with you could be detrimental to your child’s health. You must be able to prove to the court that your child will be safe with you.
If applicable, you must provide evidence that any previous substance abuse, criminal history or domestic violence issues have been or are being addressed. Unless you can do that, your ex might be granted sole custody. You must show the court that you are physically and mentally healthy and that the home environment you will be providing for your child is safe.
Communicate with your ex
You must be able to communicate with your ex regularly. You must show that you are capable of fostering a positive relationship with your ex and you are willing to work together for the sake of your child’s well-being.
Even if your divorce is ugly, it is necessary to show the court that you are willing to stick to a time sharing plan and deal with any reasonable issues that may come up outside of the courtroom. The courts don’t want to be involved in your case constantly if you and your ex cannot agree on minor things. You must show that you can put any disagreements aside when it comes to the welfare of your child.
When it comes to time sharing, “fitness” refers to moral and ethical fitness. If your ex is determined to gain sole custody they will search for the smallest thing to point to as a reason you are not fit to have time sharing. Don’t fall into any traps and give your ex evidence against your moral and ethical fitness. Simply do what is best for your child.
Shiobhan Olivero was born and raised in Plant City. Her law office can be reached at (813) 534-0393 or by email at [email protected].