When married parents divorce and unmarried parents split, the rights and well-being of the child have to be considered. Florida law recognizes the need to protect and uphold the best interests of the child. A lawyer well-versed in Florida family law can assist your family with parenting plans to ensure that the child involved is not harmed.
Gainesville, FL Family Law & Parenting Plan Attorneys
In many divorce cases, parents are able to communicate and cooperate with each other to develop an effective parenting system. Both parents have responsibilities and access to the child. However, in cases in which parents have bitter or hostile relations with each other, parenting plans can be tricky. It may be difficult for parents to reach an agreeable solution. Who will afford which expenses? Who will transport the child to school and other daily activities? When and for what duration will each parent spend with the child?
Florida law recognizes that parents are often unable to solve these complicated issues on their own.Thus, there are guidelines and special considerations pertaining to time-sharing, child custody, and visitation that make parenting plans between separated parents possible.
Child Custody Decisions in Florida
When determining which parent will have sole custody over the child — that is, the parent who the child will live with for the majority of his/her childhood — courts consider the child’s health and safety, emotional and developmental needs, and the moral character of the parent. Courts may however, also offer joint custody programs
- Health & Safety: The health and safety of a child is Florida family law’s top priority. If there is evidence of current or previous substance abuse (such as drug and alcohol addictions), mental instability, domestic violence, sexual abuse/molestation, child abuse, abandonment, or neglect within a given household, courts may be unwilling to provide custody to one or both parents. In fact, one or both parents who meet these qualifications may lose their parenting privileges altogether. A child advocate and child abuse lawyer can help protect victims in these situations.
- Emotional & Developmental Needs: When determining which parent will have child custody, courts consider the abilities of the parents to meet the emotional and developmental needs of the child. The parent that is able to be actively involved and engaged with the child, create a disciplined schedule (including school work and extracurricular activities), and offer an overall stable environment is usually the parent that is granted custody.
- Moral Character: The last important factor that a court may consider when determining child custody is the moral character of the parents. To serve the best interest of the child, parents should be able to demonstrate that they are good, productive citizens. Parents who, for example, engage in illegal drug usage or extreme profanity around their child may be perceived as unfit.
Time-Sharing Arrangements in Gainesville, FL
Depending on the type of case and thorough examination of the parents, a court may issue time-sharing policies to the parents. Time-sharing of the child can be split 50/50 or provide more time with the residential parent (the parent who the child lives with for the majority of his/her childhood).
When developing time-sharing schedules, it is imperative that both parents are cooperative. In most cases, a court may designate specific timeframes and days for time-sharing. Holidays and school breaks may alternate from year to year. Although modifications of time-sharing arrangements could be made in the future, the courts expect parents to account for foreseeable changes to schedules, living arrangements and employment, and may not always grant a modified plan.
The costs and modes of transportation are usually agreed upon by the parents. Once a time-sharing schedule is definitive, both parents are expected to be punctual and to avoid disruption of the other parent’s time with the child. Parents are required to notify each other 24 hours in advance if there is a need to keep the child for a longer or shorter time than specified. If there is an emergency, parents should notify each other as soon as possible.
A qualified divorce attorney in Gainesville, FL, like those at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates can help you work out an agreeable time-sharing arrangement with your former spouse or partner.
Florida Child Visitation Rights
Visitation schedules should be arranged with the parents and approved by a judge (or other hearing officer). Child visitation rights require both parents to have positive relations with each other. If a parent’s visitation time is interfered with, a court can fine the parent that is responsible for the interference, order mandatory community service, or order a change in the visitation plan altogether.
Contact a Family Attorney in Gainesville, FL
Parenting plans for separated parents can become stressful, frustrating, and even disastrous. While equal parenting plans are desirable, there are often circumstances that breach the safety and well-being of the child — in which case, the child deserves to be with the most suitable parent. At the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, we have experienced family law attorneys who can assist your family to ensure that your children are protected during legal matters. Contact us today.