Custody & Visitation
Determination of which parent is responsible for what, and when the children will be with which parent is perhaps the most important part of dissolving of your marriage. Determining “Parental Responsibility” and “Parental Time Sharing” is a required part of your case, and will be ordered by a judge if the parents cannot reach an agreement. We will help you determine a time sharing schedule, co-parenting, residential determination, re-location if necessary, and post-judgment modification of these matters if the need should arise.
Most parents strive to consider the best interests of their children when making any decision that involves them, and cases involving children can be very emotional and difficult. We understand that you may need assistance in dealing with the emotionally trying aspects of determining issues surrounding your children. If needed, we can recommend support groups and crisis management professionals that can help you cope with the very emotionally trying aspect of your divorce.
In some cases a Guardian Ad Litem may be required to conduct an impartial investigation and to act as the eyes and ears of the judge. The Guardian ad Litem will provide a report to the Court to help the court make a determination as to what would be in the best interest of the children.
TIME-SHARING AND PARENTING PLAN FACTORS
The Florida Legislature views both parents as having equal rights as parents. Neither a mother nor a father has a superior right to the children, regardless of the children's age or gender. In Florida, the court's main focus when assigning parental responsibilities (Parenting Plan) and a time-sharing schedule is the best interest of the children. In determining the best interest of the children, the court considers several legal factors. These legal factors speak to each parent’s demonstrated capacity and disposition to:
- Facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- Determine, consider and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
- Provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- Participate and be involved in the child’s school and extra-curricular activities.
- Maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
- Length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- Each parent’s demonstrated capacity to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Each parent’s demonstrated knowledge, capacity and disposition to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities and favorite things.
- The developmental stage and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Each parent’s capacity and disposition to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought.
- Evidence that any party has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant.
Parental alienation is when it appears that a child allies themselves strongly with the one parent over another and “rejects” a relationship with the “unfavored” parent without legitimate justification. Parental alienation may occur during the course of a dissolution of marriage action or paternity action.
In an accusation of parental alienation, the “alienated” parent may allege that the other parent has deliberately convinced the child that the other parent is “bad”, not worthy of the child’s love and affection. These behaviors can negatively affect the “alienated” parent’s time-sharing and can severely damage and impede the child’s relationships with "alienated” parent and their family members.
Counseling and other therapeutic activities for the child is often ordered when the court find evidence of parental alienation or estrangement.
Call Lisa York, Attorney and Counselor at Law today! Get an appointment to talk to an experienced family law attorney about your custody and visitation case.
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