Child Custody Lawyer in Fort Myers, Florida
How does child custody law work in Florida?
In Florida, the term child custody basically refers to two things: parental responsibility and time-sharing. Time-sharing refers to where the child will live and how much time will be spent with each parent. In Florida, courts will chose between two options when determining parental responsibility:
(1) sole parental responsibility; or
(2) shared parental responsibility.
The default option in Florida is awarding shared parental responsibility. Parental responsibility regards to who will make the major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing when it comes to issues such as medical issues, religious issues and education. If the parents are unable to agree on these issues, they will go through mediation and then ultimately the court will decide on issues that weren’t resolved during mediation.
In order to allow courts to enforce custody arrangements, parents must draw up a detailed parenting plan and time-sharing plan. These documents will set forth how the parents will make major decisions about the child’s upbringing and go forward so they can both help to raise the child and will specify how the child will split time between both parents.
How can a child custody lawyer work to help me in my divorce?
A child custody lawyer will help you with drafting your parenting plan and time-sharing plan to make sure that you think of all the issues that need to be covered and so that the plans will work for you and also operate in the best interest of the child.
What will a child custody lawyer do if a judge will be deciding between sole and shared parental responsibility?
Courts in Fort Myers, Florida will use shared parental responsibility as the default option, as the state of Florida has determined that it is strongly in the best interest of the child to have contact with both parents. However, if a court will be ruling on the issue of whether sole or shared responsibility is best in this case, your child custody lawyer will help to prepare documentation advocating on your behalf on the issues that apply to your case. Some of the types of issues that can come up in parental responsibility decisions are the following:
- Which parent can provide a more stable home environment;
- Which parent can provide necessary items including food, clothing and medical care;
- The moral fitness of each parent;
- The extent parenting responsibilities were conducted by a third party in the past;
- The extent parenting responsibilities will be in the future conducted by a third party;
- The job security of each parent;
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent, continuing contact with the other parent;
- The emotional bond between each parent and the child;
- The “proposed” home of each parent after the divorce;
- The child’s history, concerning home, school and community;
- The extent of each parent’s knowledge of the child’s schedule, likes, dislikes, friends, medical information and school information;
- If one parent travels frequently for work;
- The ability of each parent to provide a consistent schedule for the child, and
- Any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse or child neglect.
If a court will be deciding on the issue of parental responsibility in your dissolution of marriage case, it is critical you have an experienced attorney by your side to argue these types of issues on your behalf to ensure that you are given a role in deciding the future upbringing of your child.
What happens if we are ordered to go to mediation to address issues related to parental responsibility?
In child custody cases, mediation is generally a very good thing. The State of Florida seems to agree, as it refers all cases involving contested parental responsibility or time-sharing issues to madatory mediation, as long as both parties have a lawyer and there are no allegations of domestic abuse. Mediators can be either court-appointed or private and the role of the mediator is to help both parties come to a solution in order to avoid costly and difficult court battles.
We think that mediation is beneficial because during the mediation process, both sides really have the time and ability to think things through and express their detailed points of view and the mediator can go back and forth addressing both sides to resolve them on a point-by-point basis. This process will often produce better results, for both sides, than a judge coming to a decision in court.
Child Custody Attorney – Fort Myers, Florida
Our Fort Myers divorce attorneys can help you handle the child custody and child support aspects of your divorce.
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We are serving Fort Myers and surrounding cities and counties in Southwest, Florida such as Cape Coral, Punta Gorda, Lehigh Acres, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island and Charlotte and Hendry counties.