Child Custody and Parenting Issues in Divorce and Paternity Cases
We understand how important it is to think about your children when considering ending your marriage. Many people know Florida law requires protection of the best interests of children. While that is a simple phrase, what it really means can be complicated and hard to determine. Because courts in Florida have so much discretion when determining what is in the best interests of your children, it is important to consult with an attorney who has experience resolving children’s issues in divorce both through mediation and through trial. Our attorneys understand what goes into determining the best interests of children and have extensive experience resolving child related matters both in court and in mediation.
Many people think about child related issues in divorce in terms of child custody. Florida, however, no longer uses that term. In Florida, if you have children and are getting divorced, you will need a Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan is the document that details how you and your former spouse will handle all aspects of your children’s lives after divorce. The Parenting Plan includes many things, including decision making (also called shared parental responsibility), a schedule for your children (also called a timesharing schedule, and formerly called a visitation schedule), where your children will attend school, how childcare providers are chosen, and anything else you, our spouse, or the court deems important for your children. Ideally, you and your spouse will agree to the terms of a Parenting Plan. If you can’t, the court will decide what should be included in your Parenting Plan. Whether your Parenting Plan is determined by agreement or by the court, it is important that your attorney is able to give you reliable legal and common-sense advice while you make these very important decisions.
In some cases, you have a child, but are not married. If you are ending a relationship and there is a child involved, you must address all of the same parenting issues discussed above. Your case, however, is called a Paternity Case. In a Paternity Case the court will determine who is your child’s legal father and will also require a Parenting Plan. While a Paternity Case does not have all the same issues as a divorce, the issue of child support, and other financial issues will also be addressed. If you think you have a Paternity Case, make sure to hire an attorney who understands all issues that may come up in a Paternity Case.
Another parenting issue that can come up during or after a divorce or paternity case is Relocation. In Florida, if you have a child and there is a Parenting Plan (or similar court order) in place or you are in the process of a divorce or paternity case, and you want to move more than fifty miles from your current residence, you have to address multiple issues. Without the agreement of the other parent, or permission from the court, you cannot expect to continue to have the same timesharing schedule with your child once you move. Depending on how far you are moving, it may become not feasible to continue the same schedule. Relocation cases can be some of the most difficult cases to resolve, because you may have very good reasons for moving, but the court must still prioritize the best interests of your child and their relationship with the other parent. Our attorneys have the experience necessary to guide you through a Relocation case.