Child Custody & Visitation

CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILDREN IN FLORIDA

“CUSTODY” is a term that is no longer used in Florida law. Instead, Florida law uses terms such as PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY (SHARED OR SOLE)  when allocating the rights and responsibilities of parents for their minor children.  Courts in Florida make the determination of PARENTAL RESPONSIBLITY based upon the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD standard.  Except in the most extreme cases, parents will receive SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY, which means that they will both be entitled to access to information about the children ranging from educational information to medical records.  Parents in Florida are strongly encouraged to protect children from litigation and to refrain from making derogatory remarks about the other parent in the presence of the children. This is often a very difficult task for a parent who may be hurting from the other parent’s conduct, whether adultery, abandonment or abuse. It is, however, imperative that children not be used as the parent’s confidante or be required to take sides. In Florida parents are required to attend and complete a course on Divorce and It’s Impact on Children before the divorce is final.

“VISITATION” in Florida is now referred to as “TIME SHARING” and in every family law case parties must either submit an agreed upon Parenting Plan or the Court will establish one for them in the absence of an agreement. PARENTING PLANS are very detailed and require considerations such as where the child will attend school, whether the child may travel out of state or internationally, how often the child will have regular contact with each parent, and holiday schedules. If parties cannot agree on a Parenting Plan, the Court will consider the “BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD” and will establish a plan for the parties based upon the testimony and evidence presented by the parties. Parenting issues that must be litigated in court often require expert testimony and several days of trial.