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Can equal parenting time be put into law?

For some Florida parents, determining the custody arrangements of children as a result of a divorce is fairly cut-and-dried. Many couples agree that it is not possible to have a true 50-50 split of parenting time. Though the goal is frequently to get as close to an even arrangement as possible, concessions often need to be made so that practical matters -- such as consistently getting kids to school on time, for example -- are not overlooked.

In a perfect world, perhaps, something approaching an actual 50-50 division of time would be ideal. This type of arrangement is not set out in law, however. To many, that would place a great burden on parents if one or both wanted to seek an exception to this rule -- potentially the heaviest burden on the parent who is least able to afford a prolonged court battle over child custody.

Last month, a Florida legislator introduced a bill that would mandate a 50-50 custody split unless parents present proof that it is not in the children's best interests. Currently, family law courts tend to presume joint custody arrangements are the best choice; however, individual judges can deviate from the arrangement when they see fit.

Some critics of the proposal say that by mandating a 50-50 split, judges will essentially be forced to put the interests of parents first, rather than their kids. Additionally, such an arrangement could increase resentment between two parents who are essentially forced into a plan that may be inconvenient at best and detrimental to their children at worst.

The bill may be a long shot to eventually become law. However, its existence reminds us of how important it is to work with an experienced family law attorney in a divorce or child custody matter, so that the best interests of our children are kept at heart.

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