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Child custody disputes can be some of the most difficult and emotional legal matters that parents face. If you are going through a child custody dispute, it is important to have an experienced Central Florida child custody attorney on your side.
When parents cannot agree on who should have custody of their children, the courts must intervene. Child custody cases can be complex and time-consuming, and it is important to have an attorney who understands the law and who can advocate for your best interests. That’s where Perez-Calhoun Law Firm, P.A. comes in. Our Central Florida custody attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and ensure you and your child’s best interests are prioritized.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know from this page:
- Understanding Child Custody: Florida law uses terms like “parental responsibility” (formerly legal custody) for decision-making about the child’s upbringing and “time-sharing” (previously physical custody) that determines the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
- Determining Child Custody: The court considers various factors including parenting skills, child’s wants and needs, stability, parental roles, health, and moral character when determining child custody in Florida.
- Modifying Custody Orders: Child custody orders can be modified if there’s a substantial change in circumstances affecting the child, the other parent, or yourself.
- Enforcing Custody Agreements: When one parent doesn’t adhere to the custody order, legal action may be necessary, and an experienced family law attorney is essential for resolution.
If you are going through a child custody dispute, contact an Central Florida custody attorney today. An experienced attorney can help you protect your rights and ensure that your child’s best interests are met.
What is Child Custody?
Child custody is a legal term that refers to the rights and responsibilities of parents or guardians with respect to their children. Florida law no longer uses the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Instead, it uses the terms “parental responsibility” and “time-sharing.” This reflects the current public policy that children benefit from having healthy relationships with both parents after a marriage ends.
A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents that outlines the basic responsibilities of each parent and establishes a time-sharing schedule for the child. Each family’s circumstances are unique, but a well-conceived parenting plan will typically consider the following:
- Parental responsibility and decision-making: Formerly known as “legal custody,” this aspect of the parenting plan addresses decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing.
- Time-sharing: Previously called “physical custody,” this refers to the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Florida law allows parents to establish a schedule for overnights, weekends, and holidays.
- Information sharing: Each parent has a right to know about accidents, illnesses, or other circumstances that affect the welfare of their child. Parents must establish specific guidelines concerning how and when to inform each other of important events in the child’s life.
- Communication: Parents must agree on the methods and technologies they will use to communicate with the child when they are not with them.
How is Child Custody Determined in Florida?
When deciding what is best for a child, the court will consider all of the factors that affect the child’s well-being and the family’s situation, including:
- Parenting skills and willingness to cooperate: How well do the parents support the child’s relationship with the other parent, follow the parenting plan, and make reasonable changes when needed?
- Plan for parental responsibilities: How will the parents divide parenting responsibilities after the divorce, and to what extent will they delegate responsibilities to third parties?
- Child’s wants and needs: How well do the parents consider the child’s needs and desires when making decisions?
- Child’s stability and continuity: How long has the child lived in a stable and satisfactory environment, and is it in the child’s best interests to maintain this continuity?
- Geographically viable parenting plan: Is the proposed parenting plan feasible for the child, taking into account the child’s school and travel needs?
- Parents’ moral character: What is the character and reputation of each parent?
- Parents’ mental and physical health: Are the parents mentally and physically healthy enough to care for the child?
- Child’s home, school, and community record: How is the child doing in all areas of their life?
- Child’s preference: If the child is old enough and mature enough, what is their preference for custody?
- Parents’ knowledge of the child: How well do the parents know the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things?
- Parents’ ability to provide consistency: Can the parents provide the child with a consistent routine, including discipline, homework schedules, and bedtime routines?
- Parenting communication and cooperation: How well do the parents communicate with each other about the child, and are they willing to work together on major issues?
- Domestic violence, abuse, and neglect: Has either parent been involved in domestic violence, child abuse, abandonment, or neglect? Has either parent knowingly provided false information to the court about these issues?
- Parenting roles and responsibilities: How have the parents customarily divided parenting responsibilities before and during the divorce process? To what extent have third parties been involved in parenting?
- School and extracurricular involvement: How involved are the parents in the child’s school and extracurricular activities?
- Substance abuse: Do the parents maintain a substance-free environment for the child?
- Protecting the child from the divorce process: Do the parents refrain from discussing the divorce with the child, sharing documents related to the divorce with the child, and making negative comments about the other parent to the child?
- Meeting the child’s developmental needs: Do the parents have the capacity and disposition to meet the child’s developmental needs?
- Other relevant factors: Any other factors that are relevant to determining a specific parenting plan, such as the child’s time-sharing schedule.
Can Child Custody Orders be Changed?
Yes, a the parenting plan can be changed if there’s a substantial change in you or your ex’s situation. To do this, you’ll need to show the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order was put in place. This change could be related to the child, the other parent, or yourself.
Here are some examples of substantial changes in circumstances that may warrant a modification of a child custody order:
- The child is being abused or neglected by the other parent.
- The child is struggling in school or with their mental health because of the other parent.
- The child’s needs have changed as they have gotten older.
- The other parent has developed a substance abuse problem.
- You have moved to a new city or state and it is no longer feasible for the child to maintain the same timesharing schedule with both parents.
What If My Ex Doesn’t Follow the Parenting Plan?
Even after a judge awards custody, one parent may not follow the order. This can require legal action to enforce the custody agreement. Judges have several options for enforcement, but it is always best to hire an experienced family law attorney to help.
Violations of custody orders can have serious consequences, including fines, criminal charges, jail time, and even the loss of custody or visitation rights.
Why Do I Need an Central Florida Child Custody Lawyer?
If you are thinking about going to court to decide who will have custody of your child in Central Florida, it’s important to talk to a lawyer who knows about child custody law. Child custody cases can be complicated and have a big impact on your child’s life. A lawyer can help you understand the process and protect your rights.
Here are some reasons why you should hire our Central Florida family law attorney for your child custody case:
- Experience: Our lawyer has a lot of experience handling child custody cases. This means they know what challenges you may face and how to deal with them.
- Knowledge of the law: Our lawyer knows Florida child custody law inside and out. This means they can make sure your rights are protected and your child gets the best possible outcome.
- Negotiation skills: Our lawyer is a skilled negotiator. This is important because most child custody cases are settled out of court. A skilled negotiator can help you reach an agreement that’s fair to you and your child.
- Compassion: Child custody cases can be emotionally difficult. Our lawyer is compassionate and understanding. They will listen to your concerns and support you through this difficult time.
If you are thinking about going to court for child custody, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We will review your case and develop a personalized plan to help you achieve your goals.
Call our Central Florida Custody Lawyer Now!
If you are facing a child custody dispute in Florida, it is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney on your side. Our attorneys at Perez-Calhoun Law Firm have a deep understanding of Florida child custody law and are skilled negotiators who will fight for your child’s best interests.
We understand that child custody disputes can be complex and emotionally charged. We are here to provide you with the support and guidance you need to navigate this difficult time. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and ensure that your child has a stable and loving home environment.
To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced child custody attorneys, please contact us today. We offer a free initial consultation so that you can learn more about your legal options and how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your child.