Let Us Help Ensure That Your Parental Rights Are Protected
There is no question that child custody can become the most emotional part of every divorce. Both parents are naturally concerned about their child’s welfare, and both parents often have their own ideas about what is best. At the same time, both parents are understandably concerned about losing influence in their child’s life if they are not allowed quality parenting time.
Call Us To Discuss Your Concerns About Custody: 863-578-4755
If child custody, timesharing and parenting rights will be a major concern in your pending divorce, make sure you have an attorney who understands how to guide you through the issues. At Saunders Law Group in Bartow, Florida, our lawyers have decades of experience helping fathers and mothers protect their parenting rights, while always keeping their child’s best interests as the highest priority in divorce and family law matters.
Types Of Custody
There are different custody options available that parents should be aware of. First, there are joint and sole custody options. Florida courts generally strive to establish 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.
Spousal support (alimony) is determined as a separate issue from custody considerations, but child support is often determined by the type of custody and amount of time each parent spends with the child.
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 both parents 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
If the child is old enough, the court may take the child’s preferences into consideration. In general, though, the court will make custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests, and the court’s assumption is that children benefit most from frequent and equal contact with both parents. When determining whether to grant sole or joint custody, the court will take into consideration a variety of issues, including:
- The health and safety of the child — and whether there is any evidence of abuse. If there is such evidence, it can result in a parent losing custody and visitation rights. In some cases, supervised visitation may be allowed. The court 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 court 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 the parents’ willingness to honor the agreed-upon time-sharing schedule are also 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