Understanding Visitation/Time-Sharing with Minor Children under Florida Law: Arriving at an Agreement During Mediation

Attorney/Mediator Beth Reineke

When a couple goes through the challenging process of divorce or separation, one of the most crucial aspects to address is the well-being and care of their minor children. Under Florida law, this is referred to as "visitation" or "time-sharing," it involves determining how each parent will spend time with their children after the relationship has ended. While litigation is a standard route to resolve such matters, many couples are turning to alternative methods like mediation to arrive at mutually agreeable solutions. On this page, we will delve into the concept of visitation/time-sharing with minor children under Florida law and explore how mediation can facilitate arriving at an agreement that serves the best interests of the children and the parents involved.

Visitation/Time-Sharing in Florida: An Overview

Visitation or time-sharing refers to the allocation of time that each parent spends with their minor children after a divorce or separation. Florida law emphasizes the importance of creating a time-sharing plan that promotes the child's best interests and provides both parents with meaningful and frequent contact with their children, whenever possible.

Determining the Best Interests of the Child: Florida courts consider various factors when determining the best interests of the child. Some of these factors include each parent's ability to provide a stable home environment, their willingness to encourage a strong relationship between the child and the other parent, the child's age and preferences (if applicable), and each parent's physical and mental health.

Creating a Parenting Plan: Florida law requires divorcing or separating parents to create a parenting plan that outlines the specifics of time-sharing arrangements. This plan should cover various aspects, including the regular schedule for visitation, holiday and vacation time-sharing, communication between parents and children, and decision-making authority regarding the child's education, healthcare, and other important matters.

The Role of Mediation in Resolving Visitation/Time-Sharing Disputes

Mediation has emerged as a highly effective alternative to traditional litigation when it comes to resolving visitation/time-sharing disputes. As a Supreme Court Certified Florida divorce mediator with extensive experience in family law, Beth Reineke has witnessed firsthand how mediation can provide couples with a more collaborative and efficient way to arrive at mutually satisfactory solutions.

Neutral Mediation Process: 

Mediation involves a neutral third party, the mediator, who facilitates communication and negotiation between the parents. As a neutral entity, the mediator does not take sides or impose solutions but rather guides the parents in exploring their concerns, interests, and potential solutions.

Open Communication: 

One of the primary benefits of mediation is that it encourages open and constructive communication. Parents can express their concerns, wishes, and viewpoints directly, creating a space for better understanding and empathy between both parties.

Customized Solutions: 

Unlike litigation, where a judge's decision is binding and might not fully align with the family's unique dynamics, mediation allows parents to craft a time-sharing plan that is tailored to their specific needs and the needs of their children.

Preserving Relationships: 

Mediation often leads to more amicable resolutions, which can help preserve a more positive co-parenting relationship in the long term. This is especially important for the child's emotional well-being, as they can continue to feel supported by both parents.

Creating a Parenting Plan That Works for Your Family

When it comes to child custody and visitation, it's important to create a parenting plan that meets the unique needs of your family. Our experienced Tampa child custody mediators at Reineke Mediations can help you navigate the complexities of visitation/time-sharing and work towards a solution that prioritizes the well-being of your children.

Benefits of a customized parenting plan include:

  • Clear guidelines for visitation and time-sharing
  • Flexibility to accommodate changes in schedules or circumstances
  • Promotion of healthy co-parenting relationships
  • Reduced conflict and stress for children
  • Legal documentation for future reference and enforcement

By working with our mediators, you can create a parenting plan that is tailored to your family's needs and promotes a positive co-parenting relationship for the benefit of your children.

  • “She mixed her life experience, and legal training, with patience, logic, and persuasion, to move our case forward to a more thoughtful, and peaceful resolution, for everyone involved.”

The Mediation Process: Arriving at a Visitation/Time-Sharing Agreement

  1. Initial Mediation Session: The mediation process typically begins with an initial mediation session where both parents and the mediator meet to discuss the issues at hand and clarify the mediation process.
  2. Information Gathering: Each parent provides information about their desired time-sharing arrangements, work schedules, and any other relevant factors that might impact the visitation plan.
  3. Identifying Concerns: The mediator helps each parent identify their concerns, priorities, and any potential areas of conflict. This step sets the stage for productive negotiation.
  4. Exploring Options: Through guided discussions, the parents explore various options for visitation/time-sharing. The mediator might propose creative solutions that align with the best interests of the child.
  5. Negotiation and Compromise: The mediator facilitates negotiations, encouraging both parents to consider the other's perspective and find common ground. This might involve compromises and adjustments to ensure a balanced outcome.
  6. Drafting the Agreement: Once an agreement is reached, Beth Reineke will formalize it into a written document, outlining the details of the time-sharing plan and any other relevant terms.
  7. Court Approval: Upon review and approval by both parties, the written agreement is submitted to the court for final approval. In most cases, the court respects and upholds agreements reached through mediation, as they are the result of collaborative efforts.

In Conclusion

As a seasoned family law attorney and mediator, Beth Reineke has seen firsthand the positive impact that mediation can have on families navigating the challenges of divorce and separation. The process encourages open communication, fosters understanding, and empowers parents to arrive at agreements that reflect the best interests of their children. If you are facing visitation/time-sharing disputes in the Tampa Bay Area, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties, consider exploring the option of mediation as a constructive and efficient way to address your family's needs. Remember that the primary goal is to provide a stable and nurturing environment for your children during this transitional period.

Disclaimer: This page is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult with a qualified family law attorney for advice tailored to your specific situation. 

Our Approach Sets Us Apart

  • Supreme Court Certified Mediator

    Not all mediators are licensed attorneys - Beth Reineke brings legal experience and practical insights to the mediation process.

  • Over 3 Decades of Legal Experience

    Reineke Mediations has over 3 decades of legal experience in helping families find divorce resolutions. 

  • Litigation Free

    We believe any aspect of divorce and custody can be resolved without a courtroom fight. Beth Reineke has experience with mediating complex property division, entrenched custody disputes, and high-stakes alimony and child support issues. Reineke Mediations provides creative suggestions, gentle guidance, and reality check wisdom from years of hard work in courtroom wars.

Is Mediation the Right Choice?

We offer free phone consultations and reasonable rates for mediation, drafting of agreements, preparation of court documents and other mediation services. During your initial consultation, attorney Beth Reineke will discuss the benefits of mediation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and whether these methods are the right fit for your situation.

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Exploring Child Custody and Co-Parenting: Tampa/St. Petersburg Visitation Mediation Lawyer

Having seen the worst side of custody litigation, we are convinced that alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is superior in every way. However, ADR is not for everyone. Contact us online or call (813) 205-6675 to arrange a free phone consultation to discuss litigation alternatives. Reineke Mediations serves Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Area.

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