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Bill to assume equal parenting time progresses in Florida

One of the most powerful emotions driving parents in the aftermath of a divorce filing is fear. Mothers and fathers can be overwhelmingly scared about what will happen to their relationship with their child when they are no longer living together as one family.

In many cases, this fear stems from the fact that people don't always know what to expect when it comes to parenting plan issues. They might expect the court system to unfairly favor one parent or use past mistakes as a reason to strip one person of parenting rights. However, the fact is that most cases do not fall into these extremes and many parents end up sharing parenting time. In fact, if a bill that was recently approved by the Florida Senates is enacted, shared parenting arrangements would be the standard.

The proposed legislation would make it a requirement for state judges to start off time sharing cases presuming it is best for parents to split parenting time 50/50. After considering 20 other factors including parents' mental well-being, past reports of domestic violence and the relationship between the child and each parent, the judge could then either adjust this equal time arrangement or keep it as is.

This measure is responding to recent studies that indicate children benefit from spending time with each parent. Research has shown that kids adjust better, have fewer problems in school and have a higher self-esteem when both parents are active in raising them.

There are people who support this bill for these reasons and people who argue that splitting time in half is not necessarily the best way to approach these matters. Instead, they should be considered on an individual basis by a judge that is not predisposed to assuming equal parenting time is best.

Whether this bill becomes law or not remains to be seen. However, in the meantime, parents are urged not to be motivated by fear when it comes to child custody. There is no one answer when it comes to parenting plans, which means parents can work with their attorneys and with each other to find the plan that works best for them and their kids.

Source: Miami Herald, "Florida Senate passes bill that helps give divorced parents equal time with children," Michael Auslen, Feb. 23, 2016

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