An Experienced Child Custody Attorney Will Ensure Your Rights to Custody of Your Child Are Protected
“When the child is old enough, the courts may take the child’s preferences into consideration, however, in most cases, the court will determine what is in the best interests of the child.”
We understand how difficult divorce can be and an experienced child custody attorney at Saunders Law Group in Lakeland and Bartow, FL, can help you navigate the legal process during this trying period. Physical custody is now referred to as time-sharing, as the child shares his or her time between each parent. When the child is old enough, the courts may take the child’s preferences into consideration, however, in most cases, the court will determine what is in the best interests of the child. If you are going through a divorce and need assistance to ensure you receive fair custody, contact our attorneys, Thomas C. Saunders, K.C. Bouchillon, and J. Matthew Kelly, to schedule a consultation.
Types of Custody
There are different custody options available that parents should be aware of. First, there are both joint and sole custody options. Florida courts generally strive to provide at least some form of joint custody when possible. A parent may also have legal or physical custody of the child, or both, either of which can be joint or sole. Legal custody refers to the responsibility of the parent to make decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and welfare. Physical custody simply refers to the time a child physically spends with one or both parents.
So long as parents can communicate effectively and agree on decisions about the child, joint legal custody is preferred. In some instances, however, the courts may give one parent sole legal custody of the child, but give joint physical custody. In some cases, joint physical custody means the child spends equal amounts of time with each parent, but this is dependent on what is in the child’s best interests.
Determining Custody: The Child’s Best Interests
The courts make a majority of custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. In general, the courts typically believe children benefit most from frequent and equal contact with both parents. The courts will take various aspects into consideration when determining whether to grant sole or joint custody:
- The health and safety of the child, particularly if there is any evidence of abuse, can result in a parent losing custody and visitation rights. In some cases, supervised visitation may be allowed. Courts will also take into consideration the mental stability and physical health of each parent.
- How well each parent meets the child’s emotional and developmental needs will be evaluated. The courts may take into consideration how involved each parent is in the child’s schoolwork and after-school activities, and if the parent can provide a stable routine and environment.
- The parents’ ability to communicate and willingness to honor the time-sharing schedule agreed upon is important. The court will also consider each parent’s willingness to keep the other parent informed about activities or problems.
- Each parent’s morality and how it may affect the child’s ethical development is also taken into consideration.
According to Florida law, if joint physical custody, or time-sharing, is granted, a parenting plan must be developed, agreed upon, and approved by the court. Parenting plans must include:
- Details for dividing daily parenting tasks
- The time-sharing schedule for the child
- Which parent will provide the child with health care
- An agreement upon the use of one parent’s address for the purposes of school registration
- How the parents will communicate with one another and with the child
Contact Our Firm to Learn More
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