When people talk about child custody, the word “battle” can often be used. It is not unusual for parents to argue and fight with each other in an effort to protect their relationship with their child and seek as much parenting time as possible, but unfortunately this contention can ultimately do more harm than good.
In an effort to level the playing field and take the fighting out of child custody cases, one Florida senator has proposed a bill that would make it mandatory for parents to split custody 50-50. Even if you favor this type of shared parenting, there are some concerns to consider if the bill is passed.
As it stands now, Florida law allows judges to make determinations on custody on a case-by-case basis. They can order parents to split custody evenly or they can decide to award one parent more or most of the parenting time. This decision is based on the judge’s assessment of what is in the best interests of the child.
If the proposed bill passes, judges would not have this option except in situations where there is actual proof that 50-50 custody is of detriment to the child.
Several concerns have been raised in response to the bill. To begin with, some argue that it would benefit the wealthier parent in the event that the 50-50 split is challenged because the less wealthy person may not be able to afford the court fees and expert witnesses that the more affluent parent could.
It has also been argued that the mandatory split custody would be a burden to children who would have to go back-and-forth so often, even if such an arrangement is not in their best interest.
Whether the bill will be approved or not remains to be seen. However, it should serve as a reminder to parents currently going through the process of determining child custody that right now, there is no mandatory amount of parenting time. Every case is different and any custody or visitation schedule should be one that protects the best interests of the child above all else.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Custody bill would increase toll on mothers, put kids at risk,” Gina Presson, Jan. 25, 2016