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Florida Judge Rules Mark Sievers, Suspected of Murder, Will Keep Custody of Kids

A Lee County judge has decided that two pre-teen girls, whose mother was bludgeoned to death in the summer of 2015, should remain in the care of their father despite his recent implication in the tragedy. According to a Naples Daily News report detailing the story, Florida’s Department of Children & Families (DCF) provided evidence to the judge that the girls are supposedly in danger. Judge Lee Schreiber, however, found the agency failed to meet its burden to show probable cause. DCF had petitioned in family court that the children be removed from the father’s care.

Florida Time Sharing

The duration that divorced parents spend with children is known as “time sharing”. Commonly referred to as visitation rights in other parts of the country, this includes the allotted time that a parent spends with his or her child after a divorce has been finalized. In Florida, and in other states, this schedule is often laid out in a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a separate document – or additional information included – in a settlement agreement used to finalize a divorce. A settlement agreement specifically details how the soon-to-be former spouses will parent the children following a divorce.

A time-sharing plan is part of this document, and it comes in many forms. For example, the terms used to describe the different types of Florida time-sharing plans include:

  • Majority time-sharing – just as it sounds, this occurs when one parent has the child or children a majority of the time; and
  • Equal time-sharing – conversely, both parents have an equal amount of time with the child or children.

If both parents have equal time-sharing, courts will still calculate the monetary amount for child support based on statutory guidelines. Factors a judge will consider include:

  • the parties’ income;
  • percentage of time-sharing;
  • health care costs;
  • daycare expenses; and
  • uncovered medical expenses.

Florida law mandates that the amount of time sharing a parent has affects the amount of child support that is ordered to be paid by a judge. For purposes of time-sharing calculations, only overnight stays are used; generally, the higher the percentage of time the parent shares with the child, the lower the child support payment to the other parent.

Florida law requires the court consider “the best interest of the child” when determining family law cases. This is because public policy requires that a minor child’s most important need is having a relationship with, and seeing, both parents on a consistent and regular basis. For this reason, a parent is prohibited from refusing to allow another parent to visit the child or children, even if the ex-spouse has failed to pay child support. Outside of child support payment calculations, Florida courts address time-sharing and child support separate and apart from one another.

Some common provisions in a parenting plan include: time-sharing schedule, holiday-time sharing schedule, details of the child or children’s extra-curricular activities, education (private v. public), child care, manner of contact between the parents, and travel (both out-of-state or country).

Help in Orlando

You have the right to see your child, and any opposition that you receive regarding this sensitive issue can be an incredibly heart wrenching experience. You do not have to go through this difficult time alone. If you or someone you know is having child time-sharing rights violated by the other parent and resides in the Orlando area, let the seasoned family law office of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. help. Call the office or contact us today for an initial free, and private, review of your particular case.

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