Florida Senate Moving Towards Equal Time Sharing (SB 250)

Serving Families Throughout Palm Beach Gardens

On February 23, the Florida Senate passed legislation that would require family law judges to presume that it is best for children to split time equally with divorced parents (equal time sharing).  If a judge were to deviate from the 50/50 time share they would be required to issue a detailed order explaining why.

Under the current laws in Florida, family law judges are supposed to consider twenty different criteria points, the children’s best interest, and “frequent and continuing contact with both parents” when determining a time sharing schedule.

SB 250 is sponsored by Tom Lee (R-Brandon) under the idea that it is in the best interest of children to split time evenly with both parents whenever possible, when the end goal is the well-being of the children.  Lee’s bill was passed by a majority of the Florida Senate with 23-15 vote.  The new legislation has yet to be supported by the House.

In 2002, psychologist Robert Bauserman from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, compiled studies comparing children living with only one parent versus children living jointly between both parents.  He found that children in joint custody situations performed better in school, had higher levels of self-esteem, and overall had fewer behavioral issues than children living solely with one parent.  In addition, he found that parents tended to be less satisfied overall when equally sharing their children with an ex-spouse.

Opponents to SB 250 argue that equal time sharing isn’t ideal and will lead to backlogs in family law courts, as parents will be unsatisfied with their custody arrangements and implore judges to reconsider.  Opposition to the legislation also stems from concerns by those who believe it meddles too much with judicial discretion.  Arthenia Joyner (D- Tampa) has stated, “Each case is different. Each comes with its own unique dynamics, and conceivably, someone could come in not being equal to the other.”

SB 250 has been intertwined with the larger debate in the Florida Senate over alimony reform.  The House’s current alimony bill does not include time sharing, but provisions may be added as the House and Senate negotiate details.

It is unclear if SB 250 will make it to Governor Scott’s desk to become a law.

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John Schutz

John Schutz

Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.

Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.

John Schutz

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