A divorce from your spouse can be a saddening and stressful time, no matter the circumstances. However, if you have children with your spouse, then your children will likely be a determining factor which can impact the outcome of your divorce. If you are facing a divorce in Florida, the family law attorneys in Koberlein Law Offices can help you wade through the complicated maze of child custody.
What Affects Child Custody in Florida?
When a court determines child custody decisions in Florida, it will make a parenting plan. The deciding factor in these decisions is whether or not the decision is in the "best interest of the child." What parents want in these situations does not necessarily affect a court's decision when it comes to child custody or the parenting plan. If the parents' decisions are contrary to what the court considers to be in the best interest of the child, then the court will choose another method of child custody (parenting plan).
Determining what affects the best interests of the child is a very broad scope, and many factors can go into this determination. Generally, the following factors will be considered when determining whether a custody plan (parenting plan) is in the best interest of the child.
Health and Safety of the Child
When determining a parenting plan in Florida, a judge will determine which parent is most suited to fit the needs of the child's health and safety needs. When determining this factor, a judge will take into account the physical and mental well-being of both parents. If one parent has serious mental health problems which would hinder his or her ability to raise the child, such as a prolonged drug habit, then the judge may determine that the other parent is better suited to raise the child. A history of child abuse or domestic violence by either parent is also taken into account when determining which parent would be best suited to care for the child's safety.
Emotional and Developmental Needs of the Child
Oftentimes, custody of a child will be awarded to the parent who has the most involvement in the child's life. If a child spends the majority of their time with their father and only sees their mother periodically, for example, then a court will likely grant custody to the child's father. When determining which parent is best suited to care for the emotional and developmental needs of the child, a parent's stability will also be taken into account. In other words, if a parent travels frequently or moves often, then custody of the child may be awarded to the other parent so that the child can grow up in a steady environment.
The Relationship Between the Child's Parents and Parental Communication Skills
When determining which parent to award custody of a child to, a court will also determine both parents' ability to communicate with each other, as well as to communicate with their child about the other parent. If one parent frequently demeans or criticizes the other parent to the child, for example, such behavior could negatively impact a parent's chances of being awarded custody of the child. Courts encourage peaceful communication between both parents and children because negative communication to the child about the other parent can negatively impact the child's relationship with the other parent.
Morality of the Parent
A parent's morality will also be considered when making a determination of which parent should be awarded custody of the child. If one parent demonstrates poor morality, such as substance abuse, having frequent partners, or engaging in criminal or otherwise illegal behavior, then the other parent may be awarded custody of the child to keep the child from being exposed to such negative behavior.
Forms of Child Custody in Florida
Two types of custody exist in Florida: physical and legal custody. Physical custody determines which parent the child stays with (or, the particular time sharing of the parents), while legal custody determines the parents' ability to make decisions with regard to their child.
A parent who is awarded sole custody of a child obtains both legal and physical custody of the child. In other words, the child stays with the parent who is awarded sole custody, and the custodial parent is granted decision-making power with regard to the child.
If two parents are awarded joint custody or joint time sharing, then both parents are granted decision-making power when it comes to raising the child. In a joint custody situation, one parent will be the "primary joint custodian" and will raise the child, while the other parent will be awarded visitation rights to visit and care for the child. Choosing one parent to be the primary custodian is in the best interest of the child, as the child then has a primary place of living and one school to attend. In Florida, the courts prefer a parenting plan with time sharing.
A Breakdown of Parenting Plans and Time Sharing Agreements in Florida
In Florida, parents who share time spent with their children must have a parenting plan in place that is approved by the court. In order for a court to approve a parenting plan, the following details must be in place:
- A schedule which determines which parent spends time with the child on what day, and how long the parents spend time with the child;
- A primary residence for the child in order for a school for the child to be determined;
- Which parent will be responsible for medical care of the child and school issues;
- A plan for which parent will govern general parenting responsibilities;
- Ways that parents will communicate with the child
Need Assistance Sorting Out Child Custody? Koberlein Law Offices is Here to Help
If you are a Floridian facing a divorce from your spouse and have children, you may not know where to begin when it comes to child custody. You don't have to face a custody battle alone--the team of family law attorneys at the Koberlein Law Offices is here to help you obtain a custody plan that is fair to both you and your children. To speak with an attorney about your unique situation and obtain more information on child custody, fill out an online contact form or call one of our offices today.