Florida Child Custody Attorney
Establishing a Workable Visitation & Parenting Plan in Broward County
Are you in a custody battle that you're afraid you're not going to win? Child custody, now known as time-sharing, is one of the most contested issues in divorce and paternity cases, especially when you have multiple children.
If you would like to have a knowledgeable, compassionate, and resourceful legal team on your side during this difficult time, you have come to the right place. We handle cases all over Broward County.
At The Law Offices of Jonny Kousa, P.L., we truly care about our clients and the outcome of their cases. We know that this can be a stressful experience for everyone involved, and when we are retained in a divorce or a child custody case, we go the extra mile to ensure that our clients feel cared for.
Our Coconut Creek child custody lawyer can help you put together a parenting plan that you and your spouse can agree on. Child custody and visitation are not simple matters. We can help you understand the different types of child custody and what you can expect.
How Is Custody Determined in Florida?
The courts will always consider what is in the child’s best interests. A judge will evaluate every situation occurring in the child’s life that can have a direct influence on the child’s upbringing. Generally, there will be a lot of weight given to ensuring the child maintains a healthy relationship with both parents.
Some of the most important factors that will be evaluated include:
- The child’s health and safety
- Each parent’s capability to provide for the child
- If a parent has a history of abuse or domestic violence
- If a parent has had problems with drugs or alcohol
- What the child needs to develop emotionally and mentally
- How well both parents communicate and make decisions on behalf of the child
It is important to note that this is not an all-encompassing list of factors to consider. Nor does anyone factor determine custody in and of itself. For example, just because the child has a close bond with one parent does not automatically mean custody will be awarded to that parent.
A child’s preferences will also be considered if the child is old enough and can reasonably make decisions regarding their needs. It is important to maintain a sense of stability, which can help ensure that the child continues thriving.
Types of Child Custody in Florida
There are two types of child custody in Florida: Sole custody and joint custody.
- Sole custody is where one parent has sole physical custody and/or sole legal custody of the child(ren).
- Sole physical custody is where the child(ren) reside(s) with one parent who is responsible for the daily care of the child(ren). The other parent may have visitation rights. A parent with sole physical custody usually has sole legal custody as well.
- Sole legal custody is where one parent has the sole authority, responsibility, and duty to make all decisions for his or her child(ren).
- Joint custody is where both parents share physical and/or legal custody of the child(ren). Here, one parent is named the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation rights. Such an arrangement provides the child(ren) with some stability so that the child(ren) can have a primary residence, school, and a primary physician. In certain circumstances, the courts allow for a rotating physical custody whereby the child(ren) spend equal time with both parents. However, such an arrangement is disfavored by the courts and is only allowed in limited situations.
How to Prove a Parent Unfit
It is important to remember when going through a child custody case, the court has a duty to rule in the best the best interests of the child(ren) involved. When couples divorce, the separation may manifest in harm and intense emotion towards each other. In some cases, this will lead them to accuse each other as an unfit parent. While you may see a concern for your children, you must take into consideration that any accusations towards your now ex-spouse may be brought into an investigation. The judge may send a professional evaluator to determine the safety and well-being of the child.
These are a few examples of what a judge may rule as an unfit parent:
· Does the parent have a history of alcohol, substance, domestic abuse?
· Does the parent have any mental health conditions that may inhibit them to carry out their role as a guardian?
· Has the parent shown signs of neglect towards the child?
· Does the child have a safe and stable living environment?
Remaining bitter about the outcome may result in additional loss of custody and visitation rights. It is important to remain calm and engaging during the custody proceedings. It is best to avoid any and all verbal or physical altercations with your spouse, as that will only result in additional charges against you.
Florida Parenting Plans
In Florida, a “custody agreement” is called a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a binding document that governs the relationship between the parents pertaining to the decisions to be made concerning their child(ren).
Florida child custody laws are designed to favor the best interests of the child in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. They require divorcing parents to create a parenting plan including numerous elements.
A parenting plan must include:
- How you and the other parent will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of your child
- The time-sharing schedule arrangements that show the time your child will spend with each of you (weekdays, weekends, holidays, etc.)
- A designation of who will be responsible for healthcare, school-related matters (including which address will be used for school-boundary determination and registration), and other activities
- The methods and technologies (eg. phone calls, texts, emails, etc.) that each of you will use to communicate with your child, as well as the frequency of such communication