09 Jun 10 Things You Need To Know About Custody Agreements in Florida
Custody battles can be some of the expensive and drawn-out legal battles that are dealt with in family court. A properly informed client, along with an experienced family law attorney are in the best position to achieve a desirable outcome. Here are ten things you should know prior to beginning your child custody case.
1. The State of Florida doesn’t use the term “custody”
The State of Florida has been shying away from the term “custody” and has been assigning “parental responsibility”, instead. As long as the the involvment of both parents in the child’s life is in the best interest of the child, each parent will be assigned parental responsibility for the child. The verbiage “time-sharing” has proven to set a more positive tone and ease tension among parents.
2. There isn’t a standard “visitation” schedule
Florida is also shying away from “visitation”. Instead, the courts are using a “time-sharing” plan. This is usually designed in the form of a table included in the parenting plan that explains how the child will spend time with each parent. The table is drafted and agreed upon by the parents and approved by the courts. This method takes the individual circumstances of each parent into consideration for the best possible interest of the child. If the parents disagree, the court will create a schedule after hearing each parent.
3. Filing for “child custody” is your responsibility
The responsibility for filing for child custody falls upon you, the parent. If the couple was not married at the time of conception, this is achieved through the filing of what is known as a “Paternity” action.
4. Custody cases are ruled with the child in mind
One of the primary tasks of a lawyer—and why it is such a good idea to have one on your side—is to tell the courts why your suggested parenting plan is in the best interest of the child. The family courts perform this analysis on a case-by-case basis.
5. A custody plan will have provisions for child support
Every custody plan will have provisions for child support. The court will consider the incomes of both parents and apply the Child Support Guidelines for the State of Florida. Daycare, individual needs, and healthcare will be included.
6. Both parents usually have a right to access records, regardless of who is the child’s primary custodial parent
Both parents have a right to access records and information relating to the child, even if you have sole physical custody. This includes, but is not limited to, school, dental, and medical records. The only way to prevent this is if a judge signs an order (or approves of a parenting plan) specifically denying the other parent access. If this provision is not spelled out, then both parents have equal rights to records and information.
7. You must allow the other parent access to the child, even if he/she is behind in child support
Child support does not “buy” you access and visitation to the child. While it is highly advisable not to fall behind in child support, this does not mean access to the child is limited. At a bare minimum, time-sharing must be followed as the order dictates, regardless of the status of child support payments.
8. You may be subject to sanctions by the court for violating the order
Quite simply, if you violate a provision in the parenting plan that you disagree with, you could be hauled into family court.
9. Parents may change child custody agreements
Custody arrangements are subject to change. As the needs the child changes, so too the agreement might need to change. Parents need to prove a “substantial change in circumstances” has occurred since the signing of the original order if the parents are not in agreement as to the change. Petitions to the court must demonstrate that requested changes are in the best interest of the child.
10. Parents must acquire permission to relocate the child
“Relocate” means you are changing your primary residence to a different location, at least 50 miles away for 60 consecutive days. It does not matter if your new residence within state boundaries or not. There are different processes depending on if the other parent agrees with your move. Parents who agree to a proposed move must show the court their agreement in writing. Parents who disagree with the relocation must petition the court.