Child Custody & Visitation Overview
Florida courts have a strong and distinct interest in making sure that children of divorce and separation have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents. So the parents are both encouraged to continue sharing in the responsibilities and joys that come with raising a child.
There are a number of tools that modern courts use to achieve their goals. Those tools include: Shared Parental Responsibility, Sole Parental Responsibility and Rotating Custody.
SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
This is the parenting arrangement that Florida courts favor the most. One parent will be designated the primary residential parent. This is the parent that the child lives with most of the time. The other parent (often called the nonresidential parent) spends time with the child as agreed to by the parties or determined by the court.
But it is important to remember that each parent has an equal say when it comes to making important decisions that affect the children such as healthcare, education, etc.
SOLE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
There is a presumption in Florida that this type of arrangement is not in the best interests of children because one parent alone will be given the exclusive right and responsibility to make the important decisions discussed above. Sole Parental Responsibility generally will not be awarded unless the court believes that one of the parents is unfit to make decisions affecting the children.
Under this arrangement, a child spends a determined amount of time living with each parent at their respective homes. The parents work together to make major decisions. This sort of arrangement is still somewhat rare but it is possible if a court believes it is in the best interests of the child.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE CUSTODY & VISITATION
Florida law lays out several helpful factors that courts can consider when they have to make often difficult decisions regarding custody of and access to children. Among these factors are:
- The parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent (the parties are encouraged to facilitate the child's relationship with both parents)
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child (the court must determine where the best interests of the children lies and will act accordingly)
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home (all things being equal, courts generally favor a more stable environment for children of divorce or separation)
- The moral fitness of the parents
- The mental and physical health of the parent
- Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse
- Any other factor that the court considers to be relevant
Courts will usually order that parental responsibility for children be shared by both parents unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
How do I determine the best Custody & Visitation arrangement for my minor child?
If you need to determine child custody or visitation issues as you begin the dissolution of your partnership or marriage, are currently in the process of determining child custody or visitation, or if you are having problems or issues with a court-ordered custody arrangement, we can help.
Contact us online or call us at 954-430-1868 to schedule your initial consultation with Fort Lauderdale Child Custody Attorney S. Andrew Foster so that you can learn more about your rights and options.