Florida family law has undergone some significant modifications concerning child custody. Florida law now focuses on the best time-sharing situation for minor children. When considering parental issues the courts use a best-interest-of-the-child standard.
The terms "primary" and "secondary" child custody have been eliminated in favor of "parental time-sharing." These changes are a positive step for parents and children. They were brought about to help avoid fights between parents based upon semantics. For example, parents who had “secondary” visitation rights may have felt second-class, resenting the fact they were only allowed to “visit” their child.
Further, the public policy is to ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. The law seeks to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising children. Unless it is established through the court that equal time-sharing would be detrimental to the children, both parents should have equal rights to the children.
Child custody issues may arise during dissolution of marriage, during a split between parents who were not married, during initial determinations of responsibility and time-sharing, as well as during modification of the original agreement. Here at Draper Law Office we handle all aspects of child custody cases.
Shared Parental Responsibility
In most cases, the responsibility to care for minor children will be shared by both parents. Under shared parental responsibility, both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to the child.
Florida's focus on providing the best time-sharing situation for the child encourages both parents to spend an ample and appropriate amount of time with their children. The courts look at a variety of factors when considering the time-sharing and scheduling. These include the geographic viability of the plan, the moral fitness of the parents, mental and physical health of the parents, the reasonable preferences of the child, the demonstrated capacity of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, and their capacity and disposition to be informed about the child.
Sole parental responsibility is granted to one parent only in cases where the court determines that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
A Parenting Plan determines the details and logistics of shared parental responsibility. The Parenting Plan is submitted by the parents and approved by the court, or, in cases where the parents cannot agree, devised by the court. The Plan includes the time-share schedule, responsibility for the daily tasks of caring for the child, and other issues related to decision-making authority on health care or education matters, along with other matters relating to sharing responsibility of raising the child.
The Florida Bar published a Divorce in Florida Pamphlet that offers an overview of the dissolution of marriage. You can view the pamphlet here.
At the Draper Law Office, we work on all aspects of child custody cases. Our attorneys provide representation during the dissolution of marriage, in time-sharing agreements, and the establishment or modification of shared parental responsibility. To learn more about your legal rights during child custody matters, contact us today online or call (866) 767-4711. We proudly serve the greater Central Florida area with offices located in Kissimmee, Orlando, and St. Cloud.