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Understanding Your Custody Options in Florida

| May 20, 2019 | Firm News

Determining child custody in a divorce is often a very emotional issue that can easily turn into a bitter dispute between the divorcing parents. In order to prevent the psychological and emotional damage to a child, most states adopted laws that strictly regulate how child custody is determined in the course of divorce proceedings. Florida is by no means an exception to this. However, what makes the Sunshine State different is that the term “child custody” is no longer officially used in the context of a divorce.

In Florida, it is still a judge who decides how the parents will share in the upbringing of the child and how their responsibilities will be divided. However, while other states use terms such as “physical custody” and “legal custody,” Florida adopted a different approach to these important issues. Read on to understand your custody options in the Sunshine State.

Time Sharing and Parenting Plan

Florida child custody laws are guided by the belief that both parents are entitled to exercise the parental authority and have a meaningful relationship with their children. That’s why as a part of the divorce proceedings, parents are required to develop a plan regulating how much time a child will spend with each of them. This arrangement is called time-sharing. If parents are unable to reach a substantial agreement in this matter, the time sharing schedule will be decided by the court.

The precise arrangement of a time-sharing plan is flexible and may depend on a number of factors, such as the parents’ geographical proximity to each other, their respective ability to provide for the child’s needs, and so forth. For example, a child may stay with one parent on weekdays and spend weekends with the other; or, he or she may live with one parent for most of the year while spending holidays and vacation periods with the other.

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility, on the other hand, refers to the parents’ decision-making rights with regards to important matters such as the child’s education, medical issues, or religion. Under Florida law, parental responsibility is shared by default. However, if parents cannot agree on serious issues such as the ones mentioned above, the court may grant one parent sole parental responsibility to make decisions related to the child’s well-being.

Dividing parental responsibility and making time-sharing arrangements are important parts of the divorce process. In order to ensure that your rights in this process are adequately represented and respected, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Rotella & Hernandez. We will closely analyze your family’s situation and help you negotiate a parenting plan that not only reflects your rights as a parent but also has your child’s best interest at heart.