When you go through a child custody proceeding in Florida, it is common to have questions about custody laws and the process of a custody case. The best source for answers to your questions is an experienced Orlando child custody lawyer. Therefore, our lawyers have put together this Florida Child Custody Guide and FAQ to answer the most common questions we receive about child custody in Florida.
What Does a Florida Court Consider To Determine Child Custody?
The primary concern for the courts to address in a child custody case is what is in the best interests of the children. The Florida statutes list 20 factors judges consider when deciding a child’s best interests, including but not limited to the following:
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to honor the time-sharing plan and foster a continuing parent-child relationship with the child’s other parent.
- The moral fitness, physical health, and mental health of each parent.
- The length of time a child has been in a stable environment and the desirability to maintain a stable environment.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to care for and provide for the child’s needs.
- Any evidence of child neglect, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual violence, or child abandonment.
- Each parent’s ability and capacity to be involved in and participate in their children’s lives.
- The desire of each parent to protect their children from ongoing custody litigation.
Judges can consider any relevant factors to decide the child’s best interest. Regardless of whether you agree to custody terms, the law requires the court to approve a parenting plan.
What Must Be Included in a Florida Parenting Plan?
The Florida Courts have a standard form for parenting plans. Custody plans must contact specific information, including but not limited to the following:
- How parents intend to share the everyday responsibilities of caring for and raising their children.
- The forms of communication parents and children use to communicate when the child is not with them.
- A time-sharing schedule explaining how each parent will spend time with their children.
- How the parents will address and determine major decisions for their children, including education, medical, and extra-curricular activities.
- How the parents will exchange the children for time-sharing and visitation.
Parenting plans can be tailored to meet the children’s and parents’ needs. However, they must address all significant aspects of parenting and raising a child.
Does the Child Have Any Say in Which Parent Receives Custody?
Florida judge may consider the wishes of a child in custody decisions. However, the judge must determine whether the child is of an age and maturity level to make reasonable decisions regarding custody.
Who Is the Custodial Parent?
The term “custodial parent” does not mean the same thing as having sole custody. Instead, the parent who is the primary residential parent is the custodial parent under Florida custody laws. The non-custodial parent has visitation rights and typically pays child support payments to the custodial parent.
How Are Child Support Payments Determined in Florida?
Florida bases child support obligations on standard child support guidelines. Child support is based on the combined income of the parents, how much time the child spends with each parent, and how many children there are to support. The court also considers a child’s basic and special needs when ordering child support payments.
What Is the Difference Between Sole and Joint Custody?
Sole custody gives a parent the right to make decisions for their child without any input from the other parent. Joint custody gives each parent a say in the major decisions for their child.
What Are the Grounds for Child Custody Modification?
Circumstances change during the life of a child. Therefore, the courts recognize that child custody agreements might need to be modified. Therefore, you can petition the court to modify a child custody order.
However, child custody is only modified if the parent seeking modification proves a significant change in circumstances justifies changing custody. Situations that could justify a modification of custody include, but are not limited to:
- A parent remarries or relocates, requiring a change in the visitation schedule;
- A parent has a new job that changes the time they can spend with their child;
- A child’s needs or schedule has a substantial change;
- A parent develops an addiction that impacts the child’s safety and well-being;
- A parent becomes disabled, injured, or ill and cannot physically care for the child; and,
- A parent neglects a child.
If you have questions about changing child custody, talk with a child custody lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can evaluate the case to determine the best way to proceed.
How Do I Find Out More About Florida Child Custody Cases?
Call Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for a free initial consultation. Our Orlando divorce attorneys are here to help you. We want to help you take steps to protect your rights as a parent and your children’s best interests.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803