Few things are as important to parents as their relationship with their children and their ability to actively participate in the way that they are raised. In 2008, Florida law was changed to remove references to child custody – what was previously called “legal custody” is now referred to as “parental responsibility,” and rather than having “physical custody” parents now have time-sharing agreements.
How is Child Custody Decided in St. Petersburg?
Under Florida law, all decisions made with regarding time-sharing and parental responsibilities are made with respect to the best interests of the child. In addition, it is the state public policy of the state that “each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.”
Courts will order shared parental responsibility unless the judge finds that shared parental responsibility is not in the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, courts will consider a variety of factors, including the following:
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required
- The way that the parenting responsibilities will be divided, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs and desires of the parents
- The parents’ moral fitness
- The parents’ physical and mental health
- The community, home, and school record of the child
- The preference of the child, if the court determines the child is of sufficient understanding, intelligence, and experience to express a preference
- The developmental needs and stages of the child and the parents’ demonstrated ability and disposition to meet the child’s needs
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule
St. Petersburg Parenting Plans
It is important to understand that while courts ultimately decide child custody issues, they take into account the wishes of the parents. When child custody is at issue, both parents should submit a parenting plan that the judge will consider when deciding parental responsibilities and time-sharing. If the parents are able to agree on a parenting plan and the plan does not go against the best interests of the child, the court will likely approve it. As a result, it is a good idea to try and come to an agreement with your child’s other parent regarding custody issues, as it removes some of the uncertainty that is inherent in litigation.
Call the Dolman Law Group to Speak with an Attorney Today
If you are having legal issues related to child custody or any other aspect of divorce or family law, you should speak to a Dolman Law Group child custody attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with one of our St. Petersburg child custody lawyers, call our office today or contact us online.