Understanding Florida’s New Timesharing Laws
Recently, the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill into law regarding timesharing. First, House Bill 1301 creates a presumption that it is in the best interests of a child for parents to be awarded equal timesharing during a divorce or timesharing dispute. However, this presumption is rebuttable. Second, HB 1301 deletes the requirement for a parent seeking to modify a parenting plan timesharing schedule to prove that the substantial change in circumstances was unanticipated. Third, the new law requires the court to evaluate certain factors and provide written findings when creating or modifying a timesharing schedule. Additionally, HB 1301 authorizes modification of a timesharing schedule under certain circumstances. Read on to learn more about the changes to Florida’s timesharing laws, which took effect on July 1, 2023.
The first major change that HB 1301 brought about is that there is now a presumption in Florida that equal timesharing is in the best interests of a minor child. Before HB 1301 was signed into law, Florida did not have a presumption in favor of any specific timesharing schedule. Indeed, Florida courts have always believed that each parent has the right to be awarded custody of their child. However, when determining the best timesharing schedule, Florida courts considered the child’s best interests and assessed several factors affecting the child and the family. Now, Florida courts must operate under the presumption that awarding equal timesharing is what is in a minor child’s best interests when creating or modifying a parenting plan.
However, as a parent, you can rebut that presumption, but you should know that the law provides a standard of evidence to rebut the presumption. To rebut the presumption, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a 50/50 timesharing schedule is not in your child’s best interests. This entails showing that there is more than a 50% chance that equal timesharing is not in your child’s best interests.
According to HB 1301, unless you and your child’s other parent have agreed to a court-approved timesharing schedule, the court is required to assess all factors under the statute and provide the findings when creating or modifying a timesharing schedule.
Changes to Rules Governing Modification of Parenting Plans
Regarding the rules governing the modification of parenting plans, HB 1301 brought about some notable changes. One notable change is that a party seeking to modify a parenting plan or timesharing schedule no longer has to prove that the change in circumstances was unanticipated. They only need to prove that the change is substantial and material.
Another change that the signing of HB 1301 brought about to the rules governing the modification of parenting plans is that if parents live over 50 miles apart when the last timesharing order is entered, and then one parent moves within 50 miles of the other parent, that may be considered a substantial and material change in circumstances that warrants a modification of the timesharing schedule.
Contact Us for More Information
If you need more information on the new timesharing laws, contact our Orlando family lawyers at The Arwani Law Firm.