Child Custody in Florida
The separation of parents can be a major life crisis for children and, if the proper precautions aren’t taken, children can be caught in the crossfire and adversely affected. It is critically important and expected that neither parent does anything to negatively influence a child’s opinion or perception of the other parent. The stress of a divorce can induce or exacerbate physical and emotional problems in children young and old. When determining child custody in Florida, the main goal of the courts is to prevent such issues and undue stress by creating a parenting plan that revolves around the best interests of your children. At LaFrance Law, we understand how important your kids are and we’re committed to counseling you throughout the custody process.
The Parenting Plan
A parenting plan establishes guidelines regarding the upbringing and overall well-being of your kids. Since visitation and custody of children are some of the more challenging parts of a divorce, Florida law requires that after a parenting plan is created, it has to be approved by the courts to ensure that the primary focus is the best interest of the child.
So what is a parenting plan composed of? The two main components of a parenting plan are how major and minor decision-making will be shared, and a calendar that details exactly where children will stay throughout the year. A parenting plan can also address many other challenges that may arise. For instance, a plan can specify which address should be used for school registration, boundary limitations and communication preferences.
Decision making is the first component of creating a parenting plan. Decision making affects many aspects of your child’s well-being such as education, religion, and medical needs. In Florida, decision making is known as “Parental Responsibility” and both parents are given full parental rights. By allowing both parents to have full rights during decision making, future disagreements can usually be avoided. In some circumstances, ultimate decision making can be granted to one parent if both parties agree or the courts decide it is the best option for the children.
Custody and Visitation
The second necessary component of a parenting plan pertains to visitation and where your children will stay throughout the year. Time Sharing is the preferred term in Florida when discussing visitation. A time sharing schedule will outline where children under 18 will reside during the school year, summer break, and holidays. By creating a set schedule for time sharing, both parents and children are provided a sense of security by knowing what to expect throughout the year.
Once both parents have agreed on a parenting plan, it has to be submitted to the Florida courts for approval. The courts can also make final decisions on any issues that could not be agreed upon. When reviewing a parenting plan, there are twenty (20) factors to be considered by the courts when determining what is going to best serve your child. Some of the factors that are reviewed include the capacity of parents to make decisions based on the needs of the child, establishing and maintaining a stable environment that also considers the needs of school-age children, with a focus on the time spent commuting to and from school, and when deemed appropriate, the preference of the child. A full list of the consideration factors can be found in Florida Statute 61.13(3).
When searching for an experienced, caring attorney to handle your custody case in Tampa, Florida, look no further than LaFrance Law. Contact us via the sidebar form or call us at (813) 930-5542 for a case consultation.