5 Things to Know About Child Custody in Orlando
When you are planning to get divorced and share minor children with your spouse, or if you are breaking up with a partner with whom you share minor children, it is important to learn as much as you can about Florida’s child custody laws and how they are likely to impact you.
- Florida Law Uses the Terms “Parenting” and “Time-Sharing” to Refer to Custody
Under Florida law, courts do not expressly use the term “child custody” to refer to a parent’s responsibilities or time spent with their kids. While some states still award or allocate legal and physical custody, Florida courts order parental responsibilities (or parenting) and time-sharing. In Florida, courts use the “best interests of the child” standard when making decisions about parenting and time sharing, which it does “in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.”
- Parents Can Work Together to Develop an Approved Parenting Plan
If parents can agree to terms concerning parenting and time-sharing, they can submit a parenting plan to the court for approval, which includes a time-sharing schedule. Any parenting plan that gets approved by the court must contain at least the following information:
- Details about how the parents will share day-to-day responsibilities for the child’s upbringing;
- A time-sharing schedule with detailed arrangements;
- Designation of which parent (or both) will be responsible for health care decisions, school issues, and other activities; and
- Details about the “methods and technologies” that parties will use for communicating with the child.
- Modifying a Parenting Plan or Time-Sharing Schedule Can Be Difficult
Modifying a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule may be more complicated than you might initially think. In order to modify a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule, Florida law requires the parent seeking the modification to show “a substantial, material, and unanticipated change of circumstances.” Florida courts have deemed this to be an extraordinary burden as final judgments are intended to be final.
- Florida Public Policy Dictates That Parents Should Both Have Contact with Kids Unless There is a Reason Not To
Under Florida’s child custody law, it is the public policy of Florida that “each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.”
- Courts Begin from a Presumption That Parents Share Responsibilities for Minor Children
Courts presume that parental responsibilities should be shared by the parents unless there is a reason to expect that shared parenting would be “detrimental to the child.” For example, parental responsibilities can be restricted or limited in situations involving domestic violence or other violent crimes.
Contact an Orlando Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody cases in Orlando can be complicated, and they often become contentious when the parents cannot agree on terms. Whether you expect that you and your spouse will be able to work together to develop a parenting plan or anticipate that the child custody process will be contentious, you should have an experienced Orlando child custody & time sharing attorney on your side. In other words, regardless of whether the process seems amicable, you should have dedicated counsel who can advocate for your interests. Contact Anderson & Ferrin to discuss your child custody case with a family lawyer at our firm.