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When parents divorce, they face tough questions regarding where their children will live and who will provide care. At the Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A., our attorneys provide clients in the Tampa, Clearwater, and Palm Harbor areas with the adept legal counsel necessary to manage these difficult and emotional circumstances. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.
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How the Florida Court Views Parental Responsibility
Florida statutes do not use the term "child custody." Instead, the law refers to "parental responsibility." It presumes that both parents should share decision-making and caregiving responsibilities unless this arrangement would be detrimental to the child. Sole parental responsibility is only awarded if the court believes the other parent poses a threat to the family.
The right to make major decisions about a child's well-being was once known as "legal custody." Florida child custody law refers specifically to the sharing of parental responsibility for education and child care. The court will also address other issues that may be relevant to your family's situation, such as religious upbringing and discipline. Instead of "visitation," Florida family law uses the term "time-sharing," so as not to imply that the noncustodial parent is only a visitor rather than family. A temporary determination of parental responsibility, including time-sharing, may be made while the divorce proceedings are still ongoing.
How Do You Determine a Time-Sharing/Visitation Arrangement?
When evaluating a custody arrangement, courts apply many factors to determine a child's best interest:
- Nature of the relationship that each parent has with the child
- Cooperation level of the parents
- Ability of each parent to meet the basic and specific needs of the child
- Work schedule and financial resources of each parent
- Where each parent lives
- Physical and mental health of each parent
- Any evidence of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
- How long the child has lived in a stable home
- Performance of the child in school
- Preference of the child
Florida courts expect divorcing parents to create a parenting plan that includes a time-sharing schedule and explains how they will meet the needs of their minor child.
The state guidelines take the distances between the parents into consideration and anticipate various circumstances, including:
- The ages of the children
- Weekday and weekend visitation
- Annual vacations
If the parents cannot come to an agreement-or if a judge determines the schedule they establish does not meet state guidelines-the court can dictate the schedule. Even if one parent is given sole parental responsibility, the other parent is usually still eligible for frequent, meaningful visitation under a time-sharing agreement.
Can a Child Choose Not to Visit a Parent in Florida?
Since parental responsibility and timeshare orders are enforced by Florida law, a child younger than 18 is legally required to oblige by the terms.
Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Florida?
Grandparents may be eligible for visitation under certain circumstances, such as the child being removed from the parents' home and becoming a dependent of the state.
Protect Your Parental Rights & Your Child's Interests: Call Our Tampa Bay Firm
Contact a board-certified Tampa Bay attorney to address your child custody concerns. Our team has been serving Florida families for 59 collective years. We understand that child custody is often the most emotionally charged issue in a divorce. You need to choose a capable Florida attorney to assert your parental rights!