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Time Sharing vs. Custody: Is There a Difference?

In the state of Florida, the term “custody” has been replaced by the concept known as time sharing.  However, many attorneys still use the terms interchangeably. Regardless of which terminology is used, child custody is the most contested issue in a divorce.


Time sharing refers to the plan that specifies how much time and under what circumstances the child will spend with each parent.  The plan can be one that the parents both agree on or one that is imposed by the court if the parents don’t reach an agreement. In either case, the court is serving in the child’s best interest.  

Types of Custody or Time Sharing


A time-sharing plan can be a weekly plan whereby the child spends part of the week with one parent and the rest of the week with the other parent.  Or, the timeshare can be an annual plan allowing the child to spend the summer with one parent, and the school months with the other. Of course, the plans work best if the parents live near each other, so the arrangements are less stressful for the child.


Custody or time sharing are both legal terms in Florida, and can be divided into four types:


  1. Legal Custody – involves the rights and responsibilities of the parent to make day-to-day decisions about the child’s upbringing.
  2. Physical Custody – refers to the time each parent is allowed to spend with the child.
  3. Sole Custody – stipulates that only one parent has legal custody.
  4. Joint Custody – both parents share physical and legal custody of the child.


In addition to trying to agree on time sharing and parental responsibilities, a couple must also reach a suitable child support agreement.  This aspect of the divorce should be handled by a reputable attorney to ensure a fair and legal arrangement.

Determining Parental Responsibility  


Who determines parental responsibility and what does it entail?  Under Florida law, parental responsibility involves who will make important decisions for the child.  These decisions include educational, medical, and religious aspects of the child’s life. Florida courts prefer to give shared parental responsibility so that each parent plays a role in these decisions.  However, in some case, sole parental responsibility can be granted to only one parent.


The courts urge parents to reach an amicable plan on their own, with the assistance of an attorney.  But, if the parents are not able to reach an agreement, the court will impose a plan based on the best interests of the child.  Some of the reasons a court will impose sole parental responsibility include drug or alcohol problems, a history of domestic violence, or legal problems.


Let The Law Offices of Paul H. Bowen, P.A. Guide You


During a divorce, each spouse struggles with the decisions that will affect their relationship with their child.  This challenging and emotional experience requires the expertise of a professional who understands what your family is going through.  To get the best legal advice about time sharing Florida, or any other legal questions, please contact us today.