When parents decide to separate or divorce, the children involved may experience a traumatic reaction to the new adjustment. Child custody laws in the State of Florida aim to uphold the child’s interest so that he or she is able to properly grow and develop. A family law attorney can help you understand child custody and its implications in Florida.
The laws regarding child custody are much easier to understand with the assistance of qualified Gainesville attorneys. At The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, our lawyers can help you understand child custody laws and establish the most suitable child custody and visitation arrangement for your family.
What Is Child Custody?
Child custody refers to the total care of a child. Child custody laws are established to dictate which parent will obtain legal and physical custody over a child. Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make executive decisions for the child, such as the child’s educational, medical, and religious decisions. The legal custodial parent may also establish how the child shall be disciplined in order to instill positive character traits. Meanwhile, parents with physical custody reside with the child in the same home. Contact us for more information or to speak with a child advocate attorney.
What Is Sole Custody?
Florida child custody requirements address both sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody allows one parent to have both legal and physical custody over the child. In order to obtain sole custody over a child, custody hearings are required. Evidence must be presented that supports that sole custody is required, including the following.
It's best to contact a divorce attorney in Gainesville, FL, for assistance with obtaining sole custody over a child, as Florida's child custody laws can be complex and overwhelming.
- The parent is incarcerated or unable to be in the child’s life
- The other parent does not desire to take care of the child
- The other parent has an alcohol/drug addiction problem
- The other parent has a history of abuse and violence
- The other parent is an inefficient communicator
What Is Joint Custody?
Joint custody permits both parents to have shared responsibility for the child. This typically allows one parent to be assigned as the primary joint custodian. The child will spend most of his or her time in the home and care of the primary joint custodian. The secondary joint custodian is then given visitation rights and/or time-sharing benefits to maintain a strong presence in the child’s life. He or she is also able to make governing decisions for the child. Joint custody is the most favorable form of child custody for both children and parents. By allowing both parents to be a part of the decision making for the child’s growth and development, parents are forced to cooperate with each other. Further, children are able to spend consistent time with both parents.
Common Custody Issues
The most common issues regarding child custody are the result of disobedience and/or failure of one parent to adhere to the terms and conditions of the child custody agreement. A parent may refuse to grant the child time with the other parent, limit contact of the child with the other parent, or visit with the child during time dedicated to the other parent. In most cases, parents are able to work cooperatively with each other to create a parenting plan that meets the needs of the child. However, when issues arise, family courts may intervene. Parents may wish to gain a child custody evaluation for expert suggestions on raising the child that is suitable to their unique needs. Our attorneys may be able to assist you in selecting a child custody evaluator.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody
What Purpose Does A Parenting Plan Serve?
A parenting plan is a written agreement that outlines how a child’s needs will be met after a separation or divorce. It should include basic provisions on how decisions will be made on behalf of the child, how the parents will communicate with each other, and relevant visitation schedules. When drafting a parenting plan, it is ideal to work with divorce lawyers to ensure that your plan is both effective and enforceable. A good parenting plan encourages a cooperative and healthy parenting system.
What Is Custody, Time Sharing & Visitation? How Are They Different?
Custody refers to the guardianship, maintenance and daily care of a child. A time-sharing schedule is usually developed to ensure that both parents have equal time with a child. Visitation allows noncustodial parents to spend time with children after a separation or divorce.
Who Determines The Amount Of Visitation?
Because the custodial parent cares for the everyday needs of a child, he or she will play a significant role in determining the amount of visitation that is allowed. The noncustodial parent will likely have to work around the schedule of the custodial parent. In these types of case, it is necessary for parents to maintain healthy forms of communication with each other. If visitation issues develop and persist, a judge may determine a visitation schedule that is both reasonable and fair.
If The Other Parent Has Custody, Will I Be Denied Custody In The Future?
This is a possibility. While courts will consider your reasoning for leaving your children with their other parent, they may deny custody to you for stability purposes, as granting custody to a parent who the children have lived with for a long period of time may prevent children from having to adapt to a new or unfamiliar lifestyle.
Another common reason for denied custody is pre-established conditions — the other parent may appear more favorable in a court of law because of established positive conditions and experiences with the children.
Do I Have To Share Custody Of My Child?
In most cases, yes. Although sole custody may be granted to you, courts like to ensure that children have access to both parents for a well-rounded childhood. It is likely that your former spouse or co-parent will be granted visitation rights or legal custody.
What Should I Do To Gain Sole Custody Of My Children?
You should file a petition for sole custody of your children with a local court of law. Gainesville child custody attorneys can help you compile the necessary materials to support your request.
Should I Rely On Mediation To Solve Child Custody Issues?
It is wise to consider this process. Mediation is an excellent approach for solving child custody issues. It is a cost-effective method that enables parents to meet with a neutral third-party within a short timeframe. During these meetings, child custody issues are discussed in a manner that is collaborative, positive and honest. Not only will parents be able to work towards an effective parenting plan, but they are likely to develop a lasting conflict resolution system that allows future child issues to be handled effectively.
What Is The Role Of A Primary Caretaker?
The primary caretaker is responsible for a myriad of duties for proper childcare. Tasks may include daily maintenance and care, such as ensuring that a child is well-fed, properly cleansed, and has access to healthcare and education. In most cases, the custodial parent or the parent that the child lives with is considered the primary caretaker.
If A Child’s Parents Were Never Married, Can Both Of The Parents Gain Custody?
Yes, but the parents may experience some challenges. When a mother is unmarried, custody is automatically granted to her. Once you establish paternity and/or your name is indicated on a child’s birth certificate, you can pursue visitation and legal custody rights. In most cases, the only way that a court may consider granting you with sole custody is if the mother is determined to be unfit in a court of law.
Can Former Spouses Determine Custody & Visitation Arrangements Without Court Intervention?
Yes. You and your former spouse can work together on a custody and visitation agreement that meets the needs of your child and considers your schedules. Keep in mind, however, that if you rely on this approach, the agreement will have to be reviewed and approved by a court of law.
Can An Individual Who Is Not The Parent Be Awarded Custody?
No. While it is certainly common for biological parents to be awarded custody, custody can be granted to anyone who is deemed fit and suitable by a court of law. Often, close loved ones, such as grandparents and godparents, are awarded custody.
Is It Possible To Obtain Sole Custody Of My Child?
Yes. You have a greater chance of being granted sole custody if the co-parent is deemed unfit to care for the needs of a child. This is often due to drug dependency or past acts of domestic violence or other abusive behaviors.