Florida Child Custody Attorney
Coming up with a child custody agreement between you and your spouse in a Florida divorce can be a very stressful time for you and your family. Coming up with an child custody, and possibly a subsequent child support agreement, can complicate the matter even more.
Florida child custody attorney Steven D. Miller, P.A. has over twenty years of experience facilitating child custody agreements in Florida and has the skills needed to help you. You can trust that our law firm to help keep the process as easy as possible so you can spend your time focusing on helping them transition through this difficult time. If you’re in need of a Florida child custody lawyer, contact our attorney Steve D. Miller, P.A. today for a free consultation.
Factors Considered in Shared Parenting in Florida
Florida’s “Best Interest” Law
“Best Interests of the Children” is all you need to know about how you should deal with all child related issues. This includes, but not limited to, “custody” and visitation issues. The concept of “custody” does not exist in Florida divorce cases anymore. Instead, we talk in terms of parenting plans and timesharing. That said, our child custody and Florida child support attorneys should understand exactly what you are talking about if you use the term. The divorce judge assigned to your case will care about that issue above all else.
That being said, Florida courts will also take the following factors into account when establishing a child’s legal custody and subsequent child support agreement in your Florida divorce:
- Age of Children.
- The relationship between each parent and the child/children before the divorce.
- Which arrangement will be the least disruptive.
- Each parent’s plan post-divorce and whether they wish to relocate.
- A mother and father’s ability to provide support to the child’s mental and emotional health, as well as maintain their physical health, school-related and extracurricular activities.
- The child’s preference, in some cases.
In theory, both parents should share in making major decisions that impact the children, unless there is a compelling reason why a parent should not be involved.
What Age Group Is Most Affected by Child Custody Agreements?
If your kids are old enough, they have plenty of friends whose parents are divorced; they know what goes on. Make this difficult time for them as uneventful as possible. Personal experience tells us that young children (under 10) will be fine as will older children (17+). It’s the 10-17 year old that needs lots of attention.
Watch your kids and keep their routine the same. Make sure they are doing their schoolwork. The marital settlement agreement or final judgment of dissolution (if you don’t reach agreement) will make provisions for each parent to be involved in the child’s health, education and welfare.
Children are this country’s most important assets! Do everything to keep them happy and safe. Life goes fast, very fast especially for the children of divorced parents. Yes, it happens to lots of families and your children will undoubtedly have friends whose parents have divorced. That doesn’t make it any easier for your children; it just gives them someone to commiserate with. If your children are grown (i.e., over 18) when you get divorced, make sure not to ignore them for they will surely feel the impact albeit in a different way than the younger children.
Try to Establish a Florida Child Custody Agreement out of Court
On a day-to-day basis, the parent that has the children makes decisions about what they eat, wear to school, shows they watch on T.V., computer time and, most importantly, bedtime. It’s always best if parents discuss and resolve differences of opinions regarding day-to-day living. The judge assigned to your case does not want to micromanage the lives of your children. If one parent isn’t giving a child their asthma medicine sure, go see the judge. Other than a health or safety issue, don’t bother involving your child custody attorney- it’s a waste of time and money.
What Happens When There Is Split Child Custody in Florida
Split Custody in Schools
One parent will be designated as the “primary address” for school registration purposes. However, both parents are entitled to time with the children and are required to have a parenting plan in place. This plan should let the parties and the court know who will have the children and when. Florida divorce law does not “speak” in terms of physical custody but that is the term we are all familiar with. Do what’s best for your children. They need both parents in their lives.
Establish Your Own Agreement
Unless there is a compelling reason not to agree and let a divorce judge make the decision, reach an agreement with your spouse. You’ll be glad you did. The concept of the parenting plan was implemented in order to compel parents to have a detailed plan regarding when each parent will have the children; birthdays, holidays; parental responsibility for pick up/drop off; payment of extracurricular activities.
The reason for this is simple: stay out of court. Look, you can always change it around, on your own, without going to court as the need arises – the plan talks about that. Do your best to stay out of court after the divorce is finalized for your peace of mind, money and sake of your children. Working with a Florida child custody lawyers can help make sure you cover all the bases necessary.
Consider Parenting Class Throughout Your Divorce
Both parents are required to attend a parenting class if you have minor children and are filing a Florida divorce case. The certificates of completion must be filed by your Florida child custody lawyer before the final hearing or trial. The parenting class is actually quite good. Dissolution of marriage is also dissolution of the family unit and you need to prepare for how that will affect you and the children. The parenting class is designed to make you aware of issues that will invariably arise and how best to deal with them.
Remember, it’s all about one thing: the best interests of your children. Make their transition as uneventful as possible. Don’t wear you emotions on your sleeve; don’t inject them into your issues; don’t talk badly about the other parent (even though they may full well deserve it). DO everything in your power to keep their day-to-day activities running on schedule. When they are tucked away in bed, sit down, have a glass of wine should you be so inclined and be thankful that you are doing the best thing for your children.
Relocation of Minor Children in Florida
Want to move more than 50 miles from your present location with the children? Not so fast. You must get permission from your spouse (in writing) or the divorce judge. The parent who wants to relocate with the child must present evidence to the judge that a move more than 50 miles from the present location (“as the crow flies”) is in the best interests of the child. There are a number of factors the court will consider.
The primary consideration in a relocation case is how the relocating parent will continue to foster the other parent’s relationship with the children and how, after relocating, the other parent will be able to maintain a visitation schedule. Florida divorce and family law judges will tell you that a petition for relocation of a minor child is one of the only issues that require a hearing as parents rarely agree on relocation. If the non-relocating parent has a good relationship with their children, relocation is difficult. Not impossible, just difficult. You will want a confident Florida child custody attorney to help you with your case from the beginning.
Contact a Florida Child Custody Lawyer
Life forever changes when distance is placed between parent and child; it’s inevitable. If one parent gets the children every other weekend, lives within 50 miles of the children – that is a “doable” schedule. If the other parent desires to relocate more than 50 miles, that every other weekend thing just isn’t going to work out – no way, no how. If allowed, the non-relocating parent’s frequency of time with the children will change and not in a good way.
If both parents are good parents, and do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it, not likely a judge will allow relocation. On the other hand, if the non-relocating spouse rarely sees the children, isn’t current on child support, lives in a van but is otherwise a very nice person, a much better chance that relocation will be allowed.
To ensure you’re truly taking the best legal steps for your family, it is best you consult with counsel and get legal advice from an experienced Florida family law attorney before finalizing any child custody agreements with your spouse. Steven D. Miller, P.A. can also be a resource in calculating child support costs and payment according to Florida law. To schedule a free initial consultation with Attorney Steven D. Miller, P.A. contact our office today.
“When it’s time to leave (or relocate) . . . call Steve.”