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Child Custody in Florida

In the modern culture, it is becoming more common for parents to raise their child(ren) separately. This happens either through nonmarital childbearing or when parents decide to divorce. Child custody battles can bring a lot of the family’s dirty laundry to a courtroom and therefore, it is always best to discreetly resolve custody matters outside of a courtroom. Do not hesitate to call Attorney Natlie G. Figgers with your sensitive child custody matters.

Parental Responsibility

More recently, Florida has shifted away from using the term “custody” to refer to parental rights and responsibilities. Child custody is now referred to as “parental responsibility.” Parental responsibility addresses both the legal and physical care of the child(ren) whose parents are divorcing or for parents that have never been married. The court’s first concern when dealing with a parental responsibility matter is to always protect the best interests of the child(ren).

Florida has two types of parental responsibility arrangements. Florida courts favor awarding “shared parental responsibility”, wherein both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities. Florida statute 61.13(2)(b) requires the award of shared parental responsibility unless it could be shown that it would be detrimental to the child(ren)’s best interests. However, there are certain situations when co-parenting may not seem like an appropriate choice. Does one parent suffer from any addictions, or is mentally unstable? If the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child(ren), then “sole parental responsibility” can be awarded, in which “one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child.”

Florida Parenting Plan

In Florida, whenever a family case involves minor children and time-sharing, the parents must draft a ‘Parenting Plan’. In fact, Parenting Plans are even required in cases where there is no actual disagreement between the two parents. A Parenting Plan is simply Florida’s version of a custody agreement. Even though Florida courts must approve the Parenting Plan, the courts look to the parents to come up with the specifics of the Parenting Plan to tailor what is in the best interests of their child(ren). However, if the parents are unwilling or unable to come up with a Parenting Plan, the court have the power to draft a Plan on their own.

To be approved by the court, a Parenting Plan must contain, at a minimum, the following:

  • Day-to-day responsibilities: The Plan must contain a highly detailed explanation of how parental responsibilities will be divided. This statement should include extensive details about all typical aspects of raising a child.
  • Scheduling and other logistics: Parenting Plans exists to provide clarity and reduce conflict over logistical matters. A Parenting Plan must include a schedule that is reasonably specific. A vague schedule will not be approved by the court.
  • Decision-making: The Plan must also select the parent who will have the final decision on important issues related to education and health-care. When there is an emergency situation, there is no time for an argument. There must be a clear decision-making process established to ensure that important decisions are made in an efficient manner.
  • Parent-child communication: The Plan must clearly spell out each parent’s ability to communicate with the child. This includes everything from how frequently communication should occur to which form of technology can be used.

A well drafted Parenting Plan is the right choice for your children’s future and can provide you with guidance in your children’s health and wellness decisions, as well as the details of the custody arrangements.

Contact Attorney Natlie G. Figgers with your Parenting Plan matters. Mrs. Figgers will take the time to learn about your family and your children’s needs and help guide you in negotiating or advocating for the best Parenting Plan for your family.

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