While many of us still refer to “child custody,” Florida law has changed to more accurately reflect the way we perceive parenting as a society. In the past, the way that parental rights were allocated were divided into legal custody, which referred to the right to make decisions about the way that a child is raised, and physical custody, which referred to the time actually spent with a child.
Current Florida law now refers to legal custody as “parental responsibility” and physical custody as “time-sharing.” While the law has been updated to reflect this language, parents, lawyers, and even judges may still refer to these concepts in regard to “custody.”
Regardless of what you call it, the right to spend time with your child and the be involved in major decisions about the way they are raised are extremely important to most parents. Child custody issues are often decided as part of a divorce, but also can arise between unmarried parents. Regardless of your situation, if you are involved in a dispute regarding your parental rights, you should retain an attorney immediately.
When courts decide issues regarding parenting time in Florida, they are required to consider the best interests of the child. Courts will order shared parental responsibility unless the judge deems that shared responsibility is not in the child’s best interest. The is a rebuttable presumption that if a parent has been convicted of a 1st-degree misdemeanor or higher involving domestic violence, it is not in the child’s best interests to order shared parental responsibility.
When determining a child’s best interests, a court will consider a number of factors, including the following:
Under Florida law, parents must create and submit a parenting plan in every case where time-sharing is at issue. If the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child, it will likely be approved by the court – if it is not, the court will come up with one on its own. As a result, if the parents can agree upon a parenting plan, it is likely that it will be approved, allowing both parents to participate in the decision-making process. Some of the issues that a parenting plan needs to address include the following:
If you are involved in a dispute about how you will split parenting time or parental responsibilities, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At the Dolman Law Group, our experienced child custody lawyers are committed to representing the rights of parents involved in custody disputes and work hard to ensure that each case we take is resolved as favorably as possible. To schedule a consultation with an attorney, call us today or contact us online.