Jeff Nuckols

Is It Custody or Is It Sharing?

By: Jeffrey R. Nuckols, Esq.

You have probably heard someone talk about child custody, and most of us understand the meaning of the word custody in the context of divorce. But for some people, the word custody carries with it overtones of control and even incarceration. Of course, parents generally do have the responsibility and right of control over their children, but there could be a friendlier way to talk about the time that a child spends with each parent after the divorce. Additionally, even though we understand the concept of primary custody where a child lives with one parent most of the time, a term other than custody might better describe the variation in different cases of how much time a child spends with each parent.

In Florida, the law refers to time sharing. Time sharing is one part of a parenting plan that the parents might agree to with court approval, or that a court might establish. As the phrase implies, time sharing defines the amount of time that each divorced parent spends with his or her child. Although the amount of time that one parent spends with a child might imply the amount of parenting responsibility that that parent bears, time sharing and parental responsibility are not necessarily the same.

Using the phrase “time sharing” attempts to remove the negative image that custody might carry, and allows the parents or the court to encourage flexibility and separation between parental responsibility and the time that a parent spends with a child.

Now, having discussed the replacement of the term child custody, and even though the law in Florida refers to time sharing, Florida law still contains significant references to child custody. Florida has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which, right there in its name, has the phrase child custody. (See Part II of Chapter 61 of the 2013 Florida Statutes). Because the UCCJEA addresses child custody, other aspects of Florida law must harmonize with the UCCJEA; for example, under the definition of parenting plan in Fla. Stat. 61.046(14) (2013), “a judgment or order incorporating a parenting plan under this part is a child custody determination under [the UCCJEA].”

Florida law generally refers to the time that a divorced parent spends with his or her child as time sharing rather than as a component of child custody, but Florida Statutes continue to refer to use the term child custody.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice or as forming an attorney-client relationship.  If you have any questions about your particular situation please do not hesitate to contact Jeff R. Nuckols at (321) 329-5449 ext. 2 for a free telephone consultation.

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