According to the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, more than 28,000 dissolution of marriage, or divorce, proceedings took place in 2014 that affected minor children. Florida requires that arrangements be made for the care and financial support of all minor children of a marriage upon divorce. State law promotes a public policy to guarantee that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after divorce or separation and encourages parents to share the responsibilities and rights of childcare.
Who will make the major decisions regarding my child’s welfare?
Regardless of the child’s gender or age, under Florida law, both parents receive equal consideration upon determining parental responsibility and time-sharing arrangements. Typically, parents are given shared responsibility for the minor child, allowing each party to keep full parental rights and responsibilities. Shared responsibility requires parents to jointly determine any major decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing. These may include decisions on matters such as education, health or dental care and religion. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement on any of these or any other matter related to the child’s welfare, a court may decide the controversy.
What factors will the court consider when approving a parenting plan and time-sharing arrangements?
If spouses cannot agree regarding child-rearing arrangements, a court will create a parenting plan to address childcare, time-sharing (commonly known as visitation) arrangements, decision-making authority, methods of parent-child communication and other matters. The court typically considers these and other factors while making its decision:
- Child’s best interests
- Parent’s ability and willingness to encourage and facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent
- Desirability of continuity for the child in their known surroundings
- Parent’s moral fitness
- Parent’s mental and physical health
Child custody matters are often among the most contentious issues in divorce nationwide. Consulting with a compassionate Florida child custody lawyer can help protect your child’s best interests.