Answers To Common Questions About Child Custody In Florida
If you’re a parent going through a divorce (or an unmarried parent going through a breakup), you likely have numerous questions about child custody laws and procedures in Florida. You’re certainly not alone. Prospective clients contact our firm regularly with a wide array of questions.
On this page, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions our attorney gets asked. After reading, feel free to contact Lesley Turmelle Abbott, P.A., for answers to your own questions.
Are the terms custody and visitation outdated? Have they changed?
In Florida, as in many other states, child custody and visitation are no longer the official terms used in family law procedures. Terminology related to each parent’s allotment of time with their children is now called “time sharing,” while the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of children is now called “parental responsibility.” The legal agreement allocating time and responsibility is known as the “parenting plan.”
While it is important to know and understand the new terms, attorneys and judges will still understand what you’re talking about if you use the more traditional terms. That’s one reason why we’ve included both new and old terminology on this site.
How is custody (time sharing) determined? Are courts biased against mothers or fathers?
Florida courts are obligated to make child custody decisions guided only by the best interests of the child. In many (but not all) cases, that means keeping both parents actively involved in a child’s life, although the allocation of time may not be equal.
If you and your co-parent can negotiate a plan on your own (with the help of attorneys), the court will usually approve it if it is fair and meets the best-interests standard. If you cannot agree on a plan, however, the court will create one after considering all relevant factors.
While there are plenty of people who would tell you that courts are biased against fathers or mothers, this is simply not true. The gender of the primary caregiver (if there is one) is not a relevant factor in allocating parenting time.
Are custody rulings (parenting plans) permanent? Can they be changed?
Parenting plans are enforceable as soon as they are issued, and they remain in effect until and unless they are modified. You can petition the court to modify the parenting plan if there has been a change in circumstances that is unanticipated, material and substantial enough that the best interests of the children are no longer being served.
Ms. Abbott can help petition to modify the agreement or defend against a co-parent’s petition, depending on your needs.
Does the allocation of parenting time impact how much I pay/receive in child support?
Yes, child custody and child support are linked. But parenting time is just one of many factors that go into the calculation of support amounts. The best strategy is to focus on parenting time allocation first, then work out what it will mean for child support.
Get Your Questions Answered During An Initial Consultation
If you have additional custody questions for Ms. Abbott, contact our firm to schedule your initial consultation. Call our office in Satellite Beach at 321-253-2275, or fill out our online contact form.