Child custody attorneys must be fully aware of recent changes to Florida custody laws.
In all Florida divorce cases involving children, whether the case is an uncontested divorce case or one that settles at mediation, a parenting plan (visitation schedule) must be prepared and filed with the court. Although many clients tell us they want sole custody or legal custody or physical custody of the child(ren), Florida child custody laws really don’t use those terms anymore.
Instead, Florida child custody laws mandate that there be a parenting plan which describes in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child; the time-sharing/parenting time schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent; a designation of who will be responsible for any and all forms of health care, school-related matters including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration, and other activities; and the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child. What used to be called joint custody is now referred to as shared parental responsibility.
All child custody law firms must focus on the best interests of the child(ren) because all judges, whether in Orlando, FL or Jacksonville, FL, will address that issue at the final hearing.
Florida child custody laws mandate that parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Detrimental conduct is a factual issue to be determined by the judge assigned to your case. Use your common sense; doing drugs or drinking in excess is certainly conduct the court may consider to be detrimental to the child and may place limitations on your ability to share responsibility for the child(ren) and may limit your parenting time as a result. Most “problems” can be resolved fairly to both sides in those situations.
A determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child. DivorceDeli.com, the online divorce law firm can assist you with modification of child custody matters online for a low cost.
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 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.
(c) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(d) 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.
(e) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(f) 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.
(g) 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.
(h) 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.
(i) 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.
(j) 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.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(l) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(m) 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.
(n) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(o) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
If one parent fails to pay child support or alimony, the parent who should have received the child support or alimony may not refuse to honor the time-sharing schedule presently in effect between the parents. Likewise, you must still pay support if the other parent refuses your timesharing with the child(ren).
Child custody lawyers must properly evaluate all elements of Florida child custody laws as each case presents a unique set of facts.