What You Need to Know about Child Custody in Florida
Dealing with child custody issues can be overwhelming and emotionally draining, which is why working with our child custody attorney in Maitland, FL is essential. As a parent, you want the best outcome for your child, but navigating the legal system alone can be difficult.
The legal term for child custody is now parental responsibility, but though the legal term has evolved, the determining factors of child custody have remained mostly consistent. The primary factor, of course, is what’s in the child’s best interests. Florida law outlines what specifically the courts look at when considering what is in the best interests of the child. Those specific considerations and other factors are discussed here.
At Veliz Katz Law, our Florida family law attorneys want our clients to be informed. Informed clients better understand what to expect and how to make the best decisions for everyone involved. Child custody cases, as you well know, are some of the most contentious aspects of any divorce or separation. We want to make the process as smooth as possible – because that too is in the best interests of the child.
After reading the below child custody overview, if you still have questions or are considering a divorce and having children, contact our office today to schedule an initial free consultation.
What Is Parental Responsibility in Florida?
Parental responsibility refers to the type of child custody a parent has of his or her child. It refers to the right and obligation of a parent to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their child. There are two basic types of parental responsibility in Florida, and these are:
Sole Parental Responsibility (Sole Custody)
Sole parental responsibility is awarded to a parent or guardian when the other parent is unfit to raise the child. The parent awarded sole custody is the one who makes all the decisions involving the child, whether it’s about school, religion, or another matter without the need to consult with the other parent.
If the other parent is eventually deemed fit, then parental responsibilities can be modified upon a request with approval by the court. This may occur in cases where the other parent has been deemed unfit or unable to make responsible decisions for the child.
Shared Parental Responsibility (Joint Custody)
Shared parental responsibility is custody awarded to both parents (divorced or never married) because both parents demonstrate the required fitness to raise their child. When both parents share parental responsibility, they are required to consult with each other and make joint decisions regarding important matters affecting their child’s life. Both parents have an equal say and they must work together to ensure that their child’s best interests are always a top priority.
When there is shared parental responsibility, one parent may still be the primary custodian of the child. And even if there isn’t a parent possessing primary custody, one parent may be designated with specific responsibilities. For example, it may be up to one parent to provide for healthcare or education while other responsibilities are shared.
Co-parenting plans are created to address and outline the specifics of custody matters, including time-sharing schedules. These parental plans can be mutually created by the parents or each parent can submit a parental plan to the court and the court can decide how to mesh them together, upon hearing arguments on both sides.
If you don’t want the court making the decision, then it is important to seek legal advice from our Maitland child custody lawyer who has extensive experience in negotiation and mediation. At Veliz Katz Law, we understand the importance of working together because – though even if you are no longer a couple, married or otherwise – it’s in the best interests of the child to come to a mutual agreement.
What Factors Does a Court in Florida Custody Cases?
When determining issues such as visitation and custody, Florida courts always, without exception, focus on the best interests of the children involved. All of the factors under the Florida statute and the facts of each individual’s case will be reviewed by the judge to determine child custody matters.
To determine parental responsibilities, there are statutory factors a court must consider. As outlined under Fla. Stat. 61.13, factors determining the best interests of the child include:
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.
The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
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.
The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
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 the relocation of either parent with a child.
The moral fitness of the parents.
The mental and physical health of the parents.
The home, school, and community records of the child.
The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation are 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.
The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
Before going to court, it would be in your best interest to review these factors with our Maitland FL child custody lawyer. Veliz Katz Law will go over them with you and identify how each may or may not apply in your unique situation. With more than 60 years of combined legal experience, we know how these factors are interpreted and applied, and we use this knowledge to benefit you. Give your child the greatest chance to succeed with a custody agreement that favors their needs.
Aspects of Child Custody in Florida
Unlike many states that divide child custody into physical and legal custody, Florida replaced these terminologies with parental responsibilities and time-sharing. When determining parental responsibility and time-sharing arrangements, Florida courts are required to consider the best interests of the child. This means that the court will consider a variety of factors, including the child’s age and developmental needs, the mental and physical health of each parent, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving home environment for the child.
If the parents agree on a parenting plan, the court will approve it, provided that all aspects of parenting and time-sharing have been addressed. With the help of our Maitland child custody attorney, you can ensure that your parental rights are protected and that your child’s best interests are always a top priority. A well-created parenting plan considers the following:
Time-Sharing (Physical Custody)
A time-sharing schedule is a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that gives specific times that the child will spend with each parent. This schedule will also dictate overnights, time spent on weekends, and holiday and vacation time.
Parental Responsibility and Decision-Making (Legal Custody)
This aspect of the parenting plan addresses decisions about education, religion, healthcare, and extracurricular activities of the child.
The parents must agree on the methods and technologies they will use to communicate with the child they are not with at the time. It is valuable in maintaining the child’s relationship with both parents.
Generally, information about health and education must be provided to a noncustodial parent, with few exceptions. Your parenting plan needs to consider what information about the children will be shared by the parents, and how. Each parent has a right to know about illnesses, accidents, important events, or other circumstances that affect the welfare of their child.
Enforcement of Orlando Child Custody Orders
Whether you are the custodial parent with primary parental responsibility or the non-custodial parent, the judge’s orders must be followed to ensure exchanges and time-sharing are not fraught with constant challenges. There are times when child custody cases are so contentious that one party fails to adhere to the court order of parental responsibility or other court orders. This may mean you will have to seek an enforcement order.
Situations that create the need for an enforcement order include:
One parent refuses to allow visitation or to comply with the time-sharing/visitation agreement;
One parent consistently fails to stick to the time-sharing or visitation schedule; or
One parent takes the child out of state either for vacation or to relocate without first consulting the other parent or obtaining approval from the court.
In any of these or other similar situations, our Maitland child custody lawyers at Veliz Katz Law will file a motion for custody enforcement or a motion for contempt of court, whichever is appropriate in the given circumstances. If necessary, we will also pursue modifications to child custody.
Why Do I Need a Child Custody Attorney in Florida?
Child custody cases can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. With the help of a Maitland child custody attorney, you can work towards a custody arrangement that is fair and appropriate for your child’s needs, and ensure that your parental rights are protected. Here are some reasons why you might need our child custody attorney:
Protect your child’s best interests: We will prioritize your child’s best interests and work to ensure that any custody arrangement is fair and appropriate for your child’s needs.
Navigate the legal system: We can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed correctly and on time.
Understand your legal rights: We can help you understand your legal rights as a parent in Florida, including your rights to time-sharing and parental responsibility.
Negotiate with the other parent: We can help you negotiate with the other parent and work towards a custody agreement that is acceptable to both parties.
Represent you in court: If your child custody case goes to court, we can represent you and advocate for your rights in front of a judge.
At Veliz Katz Law, we can help you ensure that your rights as a parent are protected and that any custody arrangement is in the best interests of your child. We can help you handle any unexpected issues that may arise during the course of your case. Schedule a free initial consultation with us today to learn more about your legal options.
Contact our Experienced Family Law Attorney in Orlando, FL Today
Child custody in Florida is a complex process that requires a thorough understanding of the law and the ability to navigate the legal system effectively. Whether you’re negotiating a custody agreement, facing a court battle, or dealing with unexpected issues, our Maitland child custody attorneys can provide the guidance and support you need to protect the best interests of you and your child at all times, while working towards the most positive outcome possible.
Veliz Katz Law has been providing a broad range of legal services to individual and business clients in the Central Florida area. We have extensive experience handling all kinds of family law cases, including divorce, estate planning, and probate. No matter if you’re going through a divorce, child custody, separation, the loss of a loved one, or any family event that can leave you stressed, we are here to give your legal matters all the attention required.
Our family law firm is committed to our clients and dedicated to guiding you through the process of child custody, from filing for custody to securing a final custody order. We will protect your child’s rights and your rights while pursuing what is in the best interests of your child. Contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.