Determining child custody can prove difficult, especially considering the high level of emotions involved. It’s vitally important for you to at least attempt to negotiate with your spouse and practice some level of cooperation when speaking and negotiating with your spouse. You and the other parent likely know what is best for your children. Instead of leaving this important decision to the courts, you should try and come up with a solution that suits everyone involved. Contact our Fort Lauderdale child custody attorneys for more information.
A parenting plan is an extremely important element to any divorce proceeding involving minor children. In fact, the state of Florida requires that all divorcing parents work to put a parenting plan in place. If they cannot come to a mutual agreement, the court will create a plan for them.
Taking action early can avoid any unnecessary involvement of the court. It can also help ensure that you are able to obtain an adequate amount of time with your child. At Stok Kon + Braverman, our Fort Lauderdale child custody attorneys understand your desire to protect the rights and interests of both you and your child. We’re here to protect those rights, and we will work endlessly to attain a positive resolution to your case. To learn more about how we can help, contact us to speak with one of our skilled Fort Lauderdale child custody attorneys.Fort Lauderdale Child Custody Laws
The familiar terms of “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced in Florida law. The court now uses parenting plans and time share agreements when determining where, when and with whom a child will reside. Unless there are extenuating circumstances such as abuse or domestic violence, parents are allowed, and encouraged, to seek relatively equal amounts of parenting time. The goal for each parent is to maintain a close and nurturing relationship with his or her child.
Parenting plans are important because they dictate and outline the responsibilities (both physical and psychological) of each parent as they relate to the child. In a typical agreement, both parents will share in the major and day-to-day responsibilities of raising the child.
If you and the other parent are not able to come to a mutual agreement, the court will hear testimony and evidence from both parties towards the goal of establishing a plan that represents the best interests of the child(ren). In making this decision, the Florida statute mandates that the court consider these factors, among others:
- The court wants to promote a continuous relationship between the child or children and both parents. Towards this goal, the judge examines each parent to determine whether he or she appears willing to facilitate and encourage that relationship. This is often determined through the past actions of each party. For this reason, you can negatively affect your custody case by acting in a negative manner towards the other parent or refusing to allow communication between the child and that other parent.
- The court wants the children to spend as much time as possible with the both parents, as opposed to third parties, like childcare providers. If one parent is able to provide parental responsibilities without the need for third parties, this is likely to work in that parent’s favor.
- The court also wants to maintain the child’s stability. Towards this goal, the judge examines the current environment of the child and whether or not it is reasonably stable. This is done by examining the child’s current school, community activities and familial ties. if the court determines that the current environment is stable, the judge then looks at which parent is best able to maintain the child in that environment. This may also include the willingness of each parent to facilitate and participate in the child’s extracurricular activities.
- The well being of each parent is vitally important to the child custody determination. In making this assessment, the court looks at the mental and physical stability of each parent. Moral fitness and character is also taken into consideration, including criminal backgrounds and, in some instances, reputation within the community. The court also wants to know that the parents are willing to act in the best interest of the child, even when that means going against their own personal desires. The ability of each parent to maintain a safe environment, free from substance abuse or violence. Evidence of the following factors will likely prevent the court from granting a parent custody;
- Domestic violence;
- Sexual violence;
- Child abuse or neglect; and/or
- Child abandonment.
- In some situations, the judge may speak with the child and take into consideration the child’s preference. This is only done when the child is of a reasonable age to understand the situation and demonstrates sufficient intelligence.
- If the child has special developmental needs, the court is likely to place the child with the parent who is best fit to meet those needs and provide necessary services on a daily basis.
When considering these factors, the court uses a best interest standard to determine what custody determination promotes the wellbeing of the child. If you and the other parent are at odds, it is to your best advantage to secure the services of an experienced Fort Lauderdale child custody attorney to assist you in your case. At Stok Kon + Braverman, we deal with child custody cases involving:
- Creating a parenting plan;
- Custody issues for unmarried parents;
- Dependency actions;
- Fathers’ rights;
- Modifications of child support & custody;
- Relocation; and
- Special needs children.
It is the public policy of this state 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. There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.
The court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Evidence that a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28 and chapter 775, or meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d), creates a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child. If the presumption is not rebutted after the convicted parent is advised by the court that the presumption exists, shared parental responsibility, including time-sharing with the child, and decisions made regarding the child, may not be granted to the convicted parent. However, the convicted parent is not relieved of any obligation to provide financial support. If the court determines that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child, it may order sole parental responsibility and make such arrangements for time-sharing as specified in the parenting plan as will best protect the child or abused spouse from further harm. Whether or not there is a conviction of any offense of domestic violence or child abuse or the existence of an injunction for protection against domestic violence, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence or child abuse as evidence of detriment to the child.
(3)For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent's relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration. A determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child. Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to:
- (a)The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- (b)The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- (c)The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
- (d)The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining. continuity.
- (e)The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child. (f)The moral fitness of the parents.
- (g)The mental and physical health of the parents.
- (h)The home, school, and community record of the child.
- (i)The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- (j)The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child's friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- (k)The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- (l)The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- (m)Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
- (n)Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- (o)The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- (p)The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities.
- (q)The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- (r)The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- (s)The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's developmental needs.
- (t)Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
We understand that the creation and negotiation of a parenting plan can be emotional and complex. Our talented attorneys have the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate any parenting plan or time sharing agreement. Our goal will be to negotiate a plan that satisfies both you and your spouse, but if necessary, we will move to litigation to effectively protect your rights and needs.Contact Our Experienced Fort Lauderdale Child Custody Attorneys
We know that preserving your relationship with your child is a top priority. Our law firm works all aspects of the child custody issue, from the creation of parenting plans, to the enforcement of agreements that have been broken. To speak with one of our Fort Lauderdale child custody attorneys, call 954-237-1777, or 561-736-7117, or contact us online.