Florida Child Custody Attorneys

Child custody often comes up when parents are going through a divorce. The best interest of the child is usually the deciding factor when deciding child custody. Judges throughout Florida look at all situations and parameters individually before coming to a decision. The law recognizes that children benefit more from keeping regular contact with both parents and with both parents fully participating in key parental decisions even after the divorce.

Ideally, in Florida custody cases, both parents stand on equal footing, with neither having any greater right to custody. The judges look at the overall situation and consider factors specified in the state laws that are relevant to parenting. These factors revolve around:

Health and Safety

Shared parenting is not favored if the court determines it will have an adverse effect on the child. Any evidence of child abuse, sexual violence, domestic violence, neglect or abandonment, can jeopardize the responsible parent’s visitation and custody rights. Other factors a court may take into consideration in regard to the health and safety of the child include any evidence of substance abuse in the parent’s home, along with the physical and mental health of the parent.

Emotional and Development Needs

It is expected by the judges that parents put their child’s needs first before their individual needs. The court considers to what extent both parents show the desire, commitment, and ability to attend to the child’s developmental needs and maintain full involvement in the child’s life.

This can include each parent being aware of the child’s favorite activities, knowing the child’s daily routine and activities, knowing the child’s teachers, friends, and medical care providers, and taking the child to any extracurricular activities.

Also, the court will consider additional factors such as each parents role in providing a routine for the child (i.e. provision of meals, homework, bedtime, discipline) and the court will look a how each parent was involved in the parenting task prior to the divorce. The court will rule in favor of which area ensures stability, little disruption, and overall benefits to the child. In some cases, a judge may believe that a child is mature and old enough to make a well thought out independent choice of who the preferred parent will be for primary custody.

Co-Parenting And Communication Skills

Results of cusstody cases are also determined by factors that encourage a favorable environment for co-parenting and positive communication between the divorcing parents. Florida law strongly leans towards the ability of each parent to form a relationship with their child. It is highly encouraged for each parent to encourage a positive relationship between the child and their other parent. The court looks at each parent’s attitude and commitment towards an equal time-sharing schedule as well as the ability to make reasonable adjustments without the need for court intervention.

The court also looks at the ability to maturely communicate between each parent – including making sure the other parent is aware of the child’s school or overall progress, activities, and any other issue that may arise. It also looks at the parent’s unified stand to resolving significant challenges and problems.

Divorce can be a long and stressful road, and because of this, it is expected of parents to provide maximum protection for the child and shield the child from the tensions surrounding the divorce.

Moral Fitness

Moral fitness is a deciding factor when taking in selecting the best interest of the child. Moral fitness revolves round circumstances that might influence the child in a number of ways such as substance abuse, verbal abuse, or any other hostile behavior conducted by either parent.

Custody Options

Custody consists of two forms:

  • Physical custody: Relates to the child’s physical presence with a parent for the majority of the year.
  • Legal custody: Deals with significant decision-making capabilities regarding the child’s welfare, education, and

Florida law supports joint legal custody unless there is an adverse and adverse effect on the child. Parents can agree to divide specific responsibilities into subjects concerning the welfare, education, and healthcare of the child, as long as it favors the best interest of the child.

In most cases, the court grants equal physical and legal custody to both parents and provides each parent equal time with the child. Depending on the factors observed by the judge and the best interest of the child, a judge may grant full custody to a single parent or the court may authorize for the child to have a main physical home with one parent with an allotted time for visitations with the other parent.

Parenting Plans

A written parenting plan is required for parents who want to share time of their minor children. For a written parenting plan to be approved by the court it must contain the following:

  • Detailed time-sharing schedule.
  • Sharing responsibility plan for daily parenting tasks.
  • Specified methods and technologies of communication that the parents will implement with the child.
  • A specified address for activities such as school registration.
  • Specification for who is responsible for school-related matters and health care.