Child custody — now called "parental responsibility" in Florida — can be one of the most stressful types of family law proceedings. As a parent, you are understandably concerned about how a custody determination will affect you and your child's lives. Will the outcome allow you to remain involved in your child's upbringing and daily life?
The good news is that custody proceedings do not need to be bitter and stressful battles. Even hotly contested custody cases rarely result in all-or-nothing outcomes. Instead, the best interests of the children will guide the decision-making, typically resulting in shared parenting with a reasonable parenting plan that gives both parents meaningful involvement.
Do You Wish to Have More Time with Your Children?
Has a time-sharing or parenting plan already been established but is not being followed? Do you wish to spend more time with your children than the parenting plan allows? Florida courts favor parents sharing the responsibility of their children except for cases where it may be harmful to the child. The amount of physical time a parent spends with his or her children can have a direct impact on how much financial child support is required. It is important that a shared parenting plan specifically documents how much time is supposed to be spent with either parent.
In Florida, child support calculations are, in part, based on both parents’ income and the number of children that the parents have together. Generally, the parent that has a higher income would pay a higher amount of child support. However, child support will generally decrease if the child spends more than 20 percent of their overnight time with the visiting parent.
For example, a mother or father that has a shared parenting plan that calls for more than 20 percent of the overnight time with the child (at least 73 overnight stays) would pay a lower amount of child support because the time with the child is calculated in the child support.
Florida courts consider some other factors and deviations when considering child support. You can learn more about Florida child support here.
How Florida Determines Child Custody
During custody proceedings, Florida courts will focus on protecting the best interests of children. This means a variety of circumstances need to be addressed in order to determine whether a parent can provide for a child, or whether a parent is not fit or capable of meeting their best interests. Haveing worked numerous custody proceeding on behalf of both men and women, we are familiar with what courts look for when
determining custody, and how to protect both the needs of children and parents. Factors courts consider during custody matters include:
A child’s age and, if they are mature enough, their preference.
Each parent’s ability to provide emotionally and financially for a child.
Stability of a child’s education, living situation, and growth.
Parents’ willingness to co-parent and communicate
Parents’ respective relationship with a child
Because all custody cases are different, we develop individualized case strategies that can protect our clients’ unique needs and goals. These are important matters to clients and families – and they can have a long-term impact on multiple lives. As such, we never use a one-size-fits-all formula.
Guidance At All Stages Of Your Case
Attorney Goggins will guide you through all aspects of custody proceedings, from the initial filing through the court's custody determination or parenting plan agreement. Many custody cases proceed through mediation, a type of back-and-forth discussion facilitated by a neutral third-party mediator. Attorney Goggins will prepare you for the mediation process and walk you through it. If your case proceeds to court, she will apply extensive litigation experience to present a strong case. Give us a call today at 904-903-4522 or schedule a consultation.