December 6, 2023
When parents divorce or unmarried parents do not live together, they must address child-related legal matters, including custody and child support. Child support is often a standardized calculation under state laws, so the issue can be relatively straightforward. Parents, on the other hand, can make custody a contested and complex matter.
Child custody has two main components: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the time each parent spends with the child visiting or living at their home, and most parents share time with their children.
A shared arrangement where a child spends time between the parents’ homes has different names in different states, and you might have heard:
- Time sharing
- Shared or joint custody
- Shared parenting time
- Joint possessory conservatorship
Regardless of the term a specific state uses, parents must create a detailed arrangement that they agree to and the court finds is in the best interests of the child.
In modern times, parents are getting creative with their time sharing arrangements. If you face a time sharing matter, always speak with a child custody lawyer in St. Petersburg immediately.
What is a Child Time Sharing Arrangement?
A child time sharing arrangement is the legal agreement outlining the schedule and responsibilities for each parent’s time with their child following a divorce or separation. This arrangement emphasizes shared parenting and the best interests of the child.
Child time sharing arrangements should foster a positive and supportive environment for the child, promoting ongoing relationships with both parents while addressing the practicalities of parenting after a separation.
These agreements should outline what parents should do if they disagree on something or have questions about certain aspects of the schedule.
Common Time Sharing Schedules
Child time-sharing arrangements, often referred to as child custody agreements, vary widely based on each family’s unique circumstances. These agreements outline how parents share responsibilities and time with their children after a divorce or separation.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, several common time-sharing arrangements provide a framework for co-parenting. Here are some prevalent models:
Joint Physical Custody
In joint physical custody arrangements, children spend significant time with both parents. Depending on the parents ‘ schedules and the child’s needs, this might be an equal 50/50 split or a slightly uneven distribution. Joint physical custody requires a high level of cooperation between parents.
Sole Physical Custody with Visitation Rights
In cases where one parent has sole physical custody, the noncustodial parent typically has visitation rights. This can include weekends, holidays, and extended periods during school breaks. Visitation schedules should uphold the child’s best interests.
Primary Custody with Extended Visitation
A primary custody arrangement designates one parent as the primary custodian, and the noncustodial parent has extended visitation. This might involve the child spending weekends, alternate weekends, or specific days each month with the noncustodial parent.
In split custody arrangements, siblings live separately, and each parent has primary physical custody of one or more children. This is a less common arrangement and is usually a consideration when it is in the best interests of each child to be primarily with a different parent or away from one another.
Bird’s Nest Custody
Bird’s nest custody is a unique and newer arrangement where the children remain in the family home, and the parents take turns living there. This approach minimizes disruption for the children but requires a high level of cooperation and communication between the parents.
Alternating Weeks or Months
In this arrangement, children alternate between each parent’s home weekly or monthly. This provides consistency for the child due to longer periods with each parent but may require the child to adjust to different living environments regularly.
Long-Distance Parenting Plan
In cases where one parent lives a significant distance away, a long-distance parenting plan is often necessary. This might involve extended visitation during school breaks or holidays and an agreement on communication methods to maintain the parent-child relationship.
Parallel parenting is suitable for high-conflict situations where direct communication between parents is challenging. Each parent operates independently, making decisions during their designated time with the child. This minimizes direct interaction but requires coordination of schedules.
Hybrid or Customized Plans
Many families opt for hybrid or customized plans that combine elements from different arrangements. This flexibility allows parents to tailor the schedule to their family’s specific needs and preferences, considering factors like work schedules, school commitments, and the child’s age.
Determining Your Arrangement With Help from a Child Custody Lawyer
When creating a time-sharing plan, parents should communicate openly, be flexible, and focus on the child’s well-being.
Once they reach an agreement on the type of time sharing arrangement they want and nail down the details, the court must approve the arrangement before finalizing it in a court order. If parents cannot agree on an arrangement, the decision goes to the family court judge.
In determining the most suitable time-sharing arrangement, courts across the country prioritize the best interests of the child.
Judges will consider:
- The child’s age.
- School schedule.
- Relationships with each parent.
- The ability of each parent to provide a stable and supportive environment.
If you need to determine a time sharing arrangement, first consult with a family law firm in St. Petersburg. They can provide options and help negotiate to reach an out-of-court agreement whenever possible that complies with the law. They can also represent your parental rights and child’s interests in court when necessary.