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Time-Sharing and Parenting Plans

When minor children are involved in divorce or paternity proceedings, the parties are required to enter into a parenting plan that determines the day-to-day responsibilities of the parents over the children, as well as determine a time-sharing schedule, a holiday schedule, and parental responsibility over the major issues affecting a child’s life, such as, their education, religious upbringing, non-emergency medical decisions, and extra-curricular activities.

In Florida, a court can award the parties “shared parental responsibility,” or it can award one of the parties “sole parental responsibility”. There is a preference for shared parental responsibility under Florida Statute §61.13. Shared parental responsibility is a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities concerning their child and in which both parents confer with each other so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly. Sole parental responsibility is a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child without consulting the other parent. Furthermore, a court can order shared parental responsibility with ultimate responsibility over one or more aspects of the child’s life to one parent or divided between the parents.

The court must order shared parental responsibility unless it finds that shared parental responsibility will be detrimental to the child. The court will consider evidence of domestic violence or sexual violence towards the child, and any reasonable cause to believe that the child may be in imminent danger of such violence or of neglect, abandonment, or any other act of abuse. The court will also consider the following evidence: (1) of a parent’s conviction for a misdemeanor in the first degree or higher involving domestic violence, (2) a parent’s conviction for, or if the parent had adjudication withheld for, an offense that requires the parent to register as a sexual offender pursuant to Florida Statute §943.0435, and the parent was 18 years of age or older and the victim was under18 years of age or the parent believed the victim to be under 18 years of age, and (3) if the parent is incarcerated and (a) the period of time for the incarceration will constitute a significant portion of the child’s minority (when determining significant, the court will consider the child’s age and need for a permanent and stable home), (b) the incarcerated parent has been determined by the court to be a violent career criminal, a habitual felony offender or a sexual predator, or the parent has been convicted of a first degree or second degree murder, sexual battery that constitutes a capital, life, or first degree felony violation, or has been convicted of an offense in another jurisdiction which is substantially similar to the aforementioned offenses, and (c) the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that continuing the parental relationship with the incarcerated parent would be harmful to the child and termination of parental rights would in fact be in the best interest of the child.

It is important to understand that the determination of parental responsibility is separate and distinct from the time-sharing schedule. A time-sharing schedule refers to the time the child spends with each parent and details where the child will be living from day to day during the year. Our goal at Hertz Sager is to resolve your case without causing you to lose all of your money and assets while retaining your dignity and sanity and obtaining an outcome that is in the best interest of your children.

The time-sharing and the determination of parental responsibility of your children are the most personal and, perhaps, the most important part of your case. Issues related to children that regularly arise and must be determined in divorce cases and paternity cases involve parental responsibility, co-parenting, time-sharing, residential determination, relocation, and post-judgment modification of these matters.

We know that you will always try and consider the best interests of your children. However, your spouse or opposing parent may be more focused on the monetary aspects of your case. We will focus our efforts on the heart of your case, the children. We will strive to ensure that your children are protected and sheltered from the turbulence of any legal disputes.

If you have a parenting plan or wish to modify your parenting plan that resulted from surrogacy or IVF and are not married to the other parent, the attorneys at Hertz Sager can help you to reach a resolution that is in the best interest of your child or children.

Cases involving children are necessarily emotional and may become quite complicated. We can direct you to an appropriate mental health professional if it appears that you or your children will benefit from such crisis management.

Sometimes, your case may require a Guardian Ad Litem to conduct an impartial investigation and to act as the eyes and ears of the judge. We have experience serving as Guardian Ad Litems in complicated and contentious cases, so we know when it is appropriate to have the court appoint a Guardian Ad Litem and help you with such an investigation. At all times, our focus is the best interest of your children based upon your beliefs and values for them.

Another useful tool the court can use to make decisions in the best interest of the child is a social investigation. In an action where the parenting plan is at issue because the parents are unable to agree, the court may order a social investigation and study concerning all pertinent details relating to the child and each parent under Florida Statute §61.20. A social investigation must be conducted by a qualified staff of the court, a child-placing agency, a mental health counselor, a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or a marriage and family therapist. The parties may agree on the investigator, subject to approval by the court, or the court may select the investigator. The agency or person conducting the investigation will furnish the court and all parties a study containing recommendations and facts upon which those recommendations are based. Thereafter, the court will consider the study in making a decision on the parenting plan. The court may order additional testing if the court finds the original investigation is insufficient and further testing would be in the best interests of the child.

Social investigations may also include psychological evaluations of the parents and/or the children. A court may order a psychological evaluation of a party if the party’s mental health is in controversy and good cause exists for a psychological evaluation, consistent with Family Law Rule 12.360. Crane v, Crane, 353 So.3d 702 (2023). The Crane case clarified Florida Statute §61.20, which governs social investigations in Florida. This case was worked on by the attorneys at Hertz Sager, who have a deep understanding of social investigations and psychological evaluations.

Client Reviews

Christy Hertz helped me tremendously with co-parenting issues concerning my daughter. She was fair, listened to me and gave me great advice. She was honest with me, and I have great respect for her because of it. Ultimately, my daughter's father recognized what he needed to do for our daughter's...

K. D.

Christy’s polished demeanor is professional and highly effective. She ALWAYS has a plan and it's ALWAYS the correct one. In representing me from the divorce consultation to the final agreement, her practical, point-blank approach is a well appreciated one. If you are looking for the best attorney to...


This is a great firm. Christy and her colleagues represented us through a four year, highly complicated case. We were well represented throughout the whole process. The firm is professional, knowledgable, experienced, and highly effective. These are thorough, hard working attorneys who are competent...


Katie made me feel comfortable and confident. She follows through and is very patient to answer any questions you may have. If you're feeling nervous she assures you everything will be ok because she will be there with you every step of the way. Katie is very detailed and available at all times. I...


Katie, Helped me with my modification for child support. Being in the military it is very complexed dealing with pay and state laws but Katie guided me the whole way and made the process seem easy. I highly recommend Katie she is very knowledgeable and I felt I could trust her to look for my best...


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