Child Custody and Parenting Plans
In any type of marital separation or divorce proceeding, child custody and visitation is always a sensitive and potentially volatile issue. While trying to put the best interests of the child or children first, parents can’t help but be somewhat fearful or defensive in terms of guarding their own right to be with their child and have a definite say in their upbringing. Child custody and visitation issues are typically resolved through an order from the family court. Depending upon the situation and the circumstances surrounding the dissolution of the marriage, the parents may be able to reach an equitable agreement between themselves as to who children should live with and what visitation schedule is appropriate. In other circumstances, the emotional volatility of either of the divorcing parties may make such an agreement impossible.
Child Custody Determinations
It is the general policy of the Florida family court that each parent should have the right to share in the rights and responsibility of parenting, and that children deserve to have frequent, continuous contact with both of their parents. Under the Florida State Statutes, Section 63.13 states that legal custody of children and responsibility for their care should be shared between both parents, unless, of course, such an arrangement would be detrimental to the child. The court will order sole custody to one particular parent if it is determined that the other parent has a conviction for domestic violence. In this case, shared parental responsibilities, including time sharing and decisions regarding the child, will be withheld from the convicted parent.
Under Florida Statutes, a parenting plan must be approved by the court describing in detail the daily tasks, timesharing, and visitation of each parent regarding the child, as well as who will determine and make decisions regarding the child’s education, health care, extracurricular activities, and the methods and frequency of contact with the child, such as phone calls and texts. In creating a parenting plan, all circumstances between both parties need to be considered, including:
- The capacity and attitude of each parent in encouraging the child to be with the other parent, and to act upon the child’s needs;
- The length of time a child has lived in a particular environment and the suitability of that environment in meeting the child’s needs;
- The moral fitness, as well as the physical and mental health of each parent;
- The reasonable preference of the children;
- The capacity of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the children;
- The capacity of each parent to communicate effectively with the other parent; and
- Disclosure of any evidence of domestic or child abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Contact an Experienced Florida Family Law Lawyer
If you are contemplating or going through a divorce, and there are children involved, you want to be sure your rights as a parent are protected. To make sure you get the legal protection you need, contact an experienced Florida family law lawyer today. At the Law Firm of William E. Raikes III, our lawyers and staff will provide you the compassionate, comprehensive legal service you deserve, while protecting your rights and looking out for your best interests. We serve all the entire Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie, Vero Beach, Saint Lucie, and Indian River Counties. Call us today at (772) 595-6654 for a free consultation.