Given what is at stake during a child custody proceeding, Florida has developed extensive laws to guide this process. Some child custody laws in Florida are based on statutes, while others are based on court decisions. While there are a variety of rights for parents, these custody decisions generally boil down to what is best for the child.
Understanding the law is an important part of the custody process. It is valuable to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law, as the outcome of these cases can impact your relationship with your child.
Florida Statute Section 61.13 makes clear that there is one primary concern for the court during a child custody dispute: the best interest of the child. This standard should govern everything from creating a parenting plan to modifying a time-sharing schedule. Despite the rights each parent has, the court will ultimately make a custody determination based on their view of what is best for the child.
Determining a child’s best interests is not an abstract process, as the statute gives judges a lengthy list of factors to consider. Together, these factors are used to determine what will be best for the child. Some of the factors include:
- The moral fitness of the parents
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment
- The expected division of parental obligations after the divorce
- The mental health of the parents
- The physical health of the parents
- The capacity of each parent to provide a routine for the child
Some of these factors are less specific than others. For example, the concept of moral fitness is broad and vague. For many judges, a lack of moral fitness could include anything from substance abuse to casual romantic relationships. Ultimately, any activity by the parent that could negatively impact the child could be considered morally unfit.
The process of making important decisions on a child’s behalf can be challenging when both parents share legal custody. Generally, the court will make an effort to give both parents access to the children and prevent one parent or another from having the ultimate responsibility over decision making.
However, the courts have also recognized that shared parent responsibility for every single decision might be impractical. In certain situations, the courts have found it acceptable for one parent to hold the ultimate decision-making power for specific issues like education or medical decisions. This is an option when it is impractical or not in the child’s best interest to require shared responsibility among the parents.
To consult with an experienced family law lawyer today, call 855-780-9986
Setting Parenting Plans
The amount of time each individual parent has with their children is known as a parenting plan. It is up to the family law judge to determine how the parents will share this time. While courts typically attempt to provide each parent with equal amounts of parenting time, this is not always possible.
There are other options available to the courts beyond splitting parenting time equally. A court could award a parent sole custody, or they could award one parent the vast majority of time with the child.
State law also allows courts to reduce or limit their parenting time depending on their behavior. Alternatively, a court could require that any time spent with the child is supervised by another approved adult. These restrictions could be ordered when a parent has been proven to have committed child abuse, abandonment, or domestic violence.
Details Included in a Parenting Plan
Each parent seeking custody of a child during a divorce or custody hearing must submit a proposed parenting plan. These parenting plans lay out the responsibilities of each parent as well as the specific parenting time for each individual. These plans can be detailed and include important information, such as:
- The address the child formally resides at for purposes of school registration
- A time-sharing schedule
- Any designations for specific decisions each parent is solely responsible for
- A plan for daily parenting tasks
- A plan for how parents will communicate regarding the child
If the parents can agree upon a parenting plan, you may not require court intervention. However, if there is a dispute during divorce proceedings or if there are other unique circumstances in your case, the courts may be involved in developing this plan.
Discuss Custody Issues with Bogin, Munns & Munns
If you are facing a custody dispute in Florida, it is important that you understand the law involving custody issues. While this law is complex, the good news is that you do not have to take on the challenges of child custody on your own.
If you have questions about how the custody laws in Florida could impact your rights as a parent, the team at Bogin, Munns & Munns have the answers. Our attorneys have experience with helping parents fight for the right to develop a relationship with their children. To protect your rights, call Bogin, Munns & Munns at 407-578-1334 today.