Florida Child Custody
- July 17, 2015
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In cases of divorce, the issue of child custody is one of the major terms to be settled. Child custody in Florida assists in determining which parent gets legal and physical custody. Physical custody determines where the child will live, whereas legal custody allows the spouse to make educational, medical, punitive, or religious decisions. In Florida, there is a set of mandatory child support guidelines that cover the finances as well as the life stability of the child.
When both parents are able to spend liberal time with the child that is referred to as time-sharing. A Florida family court determines the allocation of time between the parents based on the best interests of the child(ren). The best interest of the child(ren) is decided by the following factors:
- Stability of the child(ren)’s home
- Psychological or physical health of the parent
- Parents ability to respond to child(ren)’s needs
- Any history of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
- The child(ren)’s wishes (if they are of the adequate age and intelligence)
When both parents believe that they are the best fit to fulfill these basic needs is when the situation becomes very costly and emotionally draining for both the parents and children involved.
It is important for both parents to understand the change in their roles; because of this it is mandatory under Florida law for both parents to attend parenting classes prior to the divorce. For many years to come you will have to deal with your ex-spouse so understanding how to co-parent and showing the court that you comprehend your role is important. In order to produce a cohesive co-parenting situation Florida law requires the parents to provide a written parenting plan. This plan includes details for shared responsibility, a specific schedule, agreeance on methods that the parents will use to communicate with the child(ren), and designation of who is responsible for health care and schooling matters.
When the court deems that any one parent is fit, that parent is awarded sole parental responsibility. The other parent, however, may or may not have the right to see their child(ren) through their court appointed timesharing schedule. If the party holding sole parental responsibility is able to convince the courts that timesharing would be detrimental to the child(ren)’s life, then the court holds the authority to deny timesharing. This situation is worst-case scenario in the state of Florida; Florida law places a strong emphasis on the importance of both parents involvement in their child(ren)’s life. The courts will not completely cut off a parent’s communication with the child(ren), but instead will put in place common sense provisions in order to protect the minor. These provisions may include one-sided decision-making or supervised timesharing.
Once the custody terms are decided it is very difficult to make changes. Unless a third party can prove there are unforeseen changes in circumstances, the custody stipulations will not be modified. The burden of proof falls upon the parent that wishes for the changes to be made, this is a very technical process and legal representation is highly recommended in order to achieve your intended goal. It is important to understand your legal rights when forming a custody agreement in order to protect yourself from unappealing outcome.