The phrase custody is often used when discussing which parent has the larger amount of time spent with their child after a divorce. Florida previously used the term to describe the child’s primary physical residence, or to describe the primary residential responsibility. The terms timesharing and parenting plan are now used instead. Timesharing is a child’s contact schedule with each parent. The parenting plan addresses the timesharing of the child along with other parenting matters, including decision-making authority.
Custody issues are amongst the most sensitive in any type of legal proceeding. They control a parent’s rights to when and how they may see their children. Reaching an agreement on which custody arrangement will be most beneficial for the children is a difficult decision. Parents are afraid of damaging the relationship with their child, and the concern is valid as custody decisions will undoubtedly affect their future relationship. The Windle Family Law Firm places special emphasis on custody issues because we feel that time with a child is irreplaceable. It is critical that custody decisions be made right the first time. If you would like to speak about you custody situation please contact The Windle Family Law Firm.
Parenting Plans, timesharing arrangements, custody and visitation are complicated issues that involve many different considerations. Topics related to parenting plans and custody include the factors used to determine timesharing schedules by the Court; different timesharing schedules that are available; use of Guardian Ad Litems or Parenting Assessments; father’s rights; grandparent’s rights; sole custody; shared parental responsibility; supervised visitation or contact; and how adultery affects custody.
When a Court makes a determination about the appropriate timesharing or custodial arrangement for a child, the primary concern is the best interest of the child. The Court and the child’s parents should focus on what will serve the child best in their upbringing and future. As difficult as custody disputes are for parents, they are more difficult for children. It is important to keep the child’s interests at the center of any custody dispute. Examples of the factors that the Court considers in determining the best interest of the child are found below. If you would like help better understanding these factors and your options, please contact The Windle Family Law Firm.
(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.