Without a doubt, the number one thing on spouses’ minds before filing for divorce (and during the process) is their children. Will they still get to see them? Will they get custody of them? How much time will they have to spend with their ex?
These, and so many other questions, are the ones that keep parents up at night while they go through a divorce. Now, a divorcing couple can always come up with a parenting plan by themselves to minimize conflict and stress during the proceedings. However, sometimes the court has to intervene in contested divorces to come up with an acceptable custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. This blog will serve as an introduction to how custody is decided in Florida divorces.
What most people refer to as child custody—how a child is physically cared for and raised—is actually referred to as “time sharing” in Florida. Time sharing refers to where children lay their heads at night when they have unmarried parents. There is a significant amount of flexibility for parents to come up with a time sharing agreement that is fair to everyone and puts the welfare of their children first. A few examples of time sharing agreements include:
- Children living for one or two weeks at each parent’s house and continuing to alternate
- Children living each month at a different parent’s house
- Children living with one parent during the school year and the other parent during summer breaks (and other long reprieves from school
More often than not, a child will spend more time with another parent than the other. This is not usually an indictment of either parent’s ability to raise and care for his or her child; things just, often, work out that way. While it is not uncommon for one co-parent to house his or her child the majority of time, courts almost always allow for equal parental responsibilities.
Again, parental responsibility is often referred to, at least in other states, as legal custody. A parent who has legal custody of his or her child is allowed to have a say in the child’s religious, spiritual, and educational upbringing, in addition to helping make choices about the child’s medical care.
In Florida, it is generally required to give each parent joint parental responsibility unless doing so would be to the detriment of the child. Situations like this include prior domestic violence or abuse, severe mental illness or substance abuse on the part of either parent, or otherwise having an unsafe home environment for the child.
The time sharing agreement combined with the parental responsibility is referred to as the overall “parenting plan” in a Florida divorce. Any parenting plan is quite detailed. To make sure your interests are well-represented, it is in your best interests to have the services of a competent and knowledgeable family lawyer by your side before and during divorce.
Titan Law has a team that is ready to be your advocate in and out of family court. Let us be your anchors during a stressful time in your life—call us at Call or get in touch with us through our website here to discuss your options with us.