When two people who are not together have a mutual child (whether due to a divorce or otherwise), establishing a legal child custody agreement is critical for setting expectations for both child and parent, and ideally, avoiding future confrontation. In the state of Florida, the courts encourage that all minor children receive shared parenting. Child custody cases therefore focus on outlining a time-sharing agreement between the parents, and aim to serve the best interest of the child.
When shared custody is granted, it is more than just time sharing that must be discussed. The parents and the court must come to an agreement which addresses every aspect of the child’s welfare. Depending on the family’s situation, these responsibilities may be shared equally by parents, or some responsibilities may fall on one parent and others on the other parent. Under different circumstances, such as in instances where one parent is determined unfit by the courts, sole child custody may be granted to one parent. However, the court typically mandates that the parents attend classes prior to the divorce to prepare them for handling time sharing issues.
The goal with any child custody proceeding is to ensure that the transition causes as little detriment to the child as possible. For that reason, Florida Statute 61.13 outlines some guidelines for evaluative the best interests of the child. Some of these considerations include:
- How parental responsibilities are expected to be divided, and to what extent third parties will be involved with the care of the child.
- The ability of each parent to meet the needs of the child and facilitate a close parent-child relationship going forward, while adhering to the time-sharing agreement.
- Geographic concerns for both parents, especially where school-age children are concerned.
- Evidence of a threat to the child, such as documented domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect.
- In some instances, the reasonable preference of the child.
Having a child custody case go to trial isn’t ideal for anyone, but it’s a reality many parents face. The child custody attorneys at Pimentel & Castillo are skilled in handling these cases with care, compassion and diligence, so that you (and most importantly, your child) receive the best possible outcome.