Establishing Child Custody, a Parenting Time plan, or Paternity can be a difficult time in your life. Many parents are scared during these times which often creates emotional conversations, tears, and heartache. Laura has personal experience with these emotional times, giving her a deep understanding of exactly what you are experiencing. She is a zealous advocate for your children and a great support system for you.
The process surrounding Child Custody can be a lengthy one. Laura works to make sure you understand each step of the process and will advise you of the best way to obtain the quickest, child-centered solution.
Once a court order is in place, you should have a clear understanding of how to co-parent in the best interest of the child. In most cases, when parents follow their court order, things start to calm down and relationships tend to heal. However, in some cases, the court order is not followed. When parents do not follow a court order, it can cause tension and fear. It may be appropriate to file a petition to modify child custody or acontempt of court in these cases.
Establishing Legal and Physical Custody
There are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical Custody is what determines where the child(ren) lives. Legal Custody is what determines who makes major decisions regarding the raising of the child(ren).
Legal Custody is often split between both parents, this is called Joint Legal Custody. It is almost always in the best interest of the child to have both parents involved in major decisions in the child(ren)’s life. This means both parents will have to agree before changing a school district, making major medical decisions, and even religious instruction. On occasion, one parent is shown to be “unfit” or otherwise incapable of making decisions regarding the child(ren)’s upbringing. In these rare cases, one parent would get Sole Legal Custody. Sole Legal Custody allows that parent to make these major decisions about their child(ren) without the consent of the other parent.
Physical Custody is determined based on what is in the best interest of the child(ren). Florida has named a number of best interest factors, but this is not an all-encompassing list.
Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to:
(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule. § 61.13(3), Fla. Stat.
Contact us today for help with your Child Custody needs. You can also book an appointment online!