When parents separate or divorce, one of the most critical issues you must address is custody and parental time-sharing arrangements. Florida has specific laws and guidelines in place to ensure that the best interests of the child are met. Understanding the legal framework and available options is essential to make informed decisions and create a nurturing environment for your children.
Florida’s legal framework regarding custody and parental time sharing is centered around the principle of “shared parental responsibility.” Under state law, this is to encourage both parents to maintain active involvement in their child’s life.
Types of Custody
In Florida, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.
- Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religion. The law generally favors joint legal custody, where both parents share decision-making responsibilities unless it is determined that one parent is unfit or incapable.
- Physical Custody: Physical custody, also known as time sharing or visitation, determines where the child will reside and how much time they will spend with each parent. Florida encourages a fair and reasonable time-sharing arrangement that promotes a strong relationship between the child and both parents, considering factors such as the child’s age, school schedule, and the proximity of the parents’ residences.
Key Factors Determining Child Custody
- Parent-Child Relationship: The emotional bond between the child and each parent and the willingness of each parent to encourage a relationship with the other parent is an important factor in any child custody determination.
- Parental Fitness: The physical and mental health of each parent is another important factor. This includes the ability to provide a stable home environment, and any history of abuse or neglect.
- Child’s Preference: In some cases, there may be reasons to consider the child’s preference, particularly if they are mature enough to express their opinion.
- Co-Parenting Abilities: The ability of each parent to cooperate and communicate effectively in matters relating to the child’s upbringing will play a role in determining child custody.
Creating a Parenting Plan
In Florida, parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan that outlines the specific details of custody and time sharing. The parenting plan should address key aspects, such as the regular schedule for visitation, holiday and vacation arrangements, transportation arrangements, and methods of communication between parents and child.
Mediation and Collaborative Advantages for Child Custody Issues
At the Law Office of Anthony J. Diaz, we always recommend resolving Child Custody questions through either Mediation or Collaborative Divorce. These non-adversarial processes allow you and your spouse to make the decisions versus asking a court to do it for you. Your family’s unique circumstances can be considered whereas in court the Judge has very limited time available to listen to those circumstances and render a decision. In most cases this involves a strict interpretation of the law. Mediation and Collaborative allow you and your spouse to make decisions based on the best interests of your family and children.
How Can I Help?
I retained the services of Anthony Diaz in November 2019. Mr. Diaz was both professional, knowledgeable, and, most importantly, gave advice intended to bring the matter to an amicable resolution – at least as much as possible. I highly recommend Anthony Diaz.