Melbourne, FL Child Custody Attorneys
Always Acting in Your Child’s Best Interests
If you and your divorcing spouse have children, divided between you and your ex-spouse. Child custody laws also apply to unmarried parents who are no longer in a relationship.
Custody disputes can quickly become heated. Understandably, each parent usually wants to protect their rights and ensure they can maximize their time with their child. At the Figueroa Law Group, P.A., we recognize the impact that a custody decision can have on you, your family, and your relationship with your child. Our custody attorneys in Melbourne, FL are here to help you find a viable solution to the dispute at hand while protecting your rights as a parent.
Custody is now referred to as Time-Sharing in Florida
In 2008, the state of Florida replaced the custody and visitation laws with the concepts of shared parenting and sole parenting. Now, parents must either work together to create a parenting plan which is either an agreement between you and the child’s other parent or the Court can make that decision for both of you. In certain circumstances, the Court may order sole decision making for one of the parents. The parenting plan outlines when and where the child will spend his or her time with each parent.
Why do I need a Child Custody Attorney in Melbourne, FL?
While there are many family law attorneys in Melbourne, FL, you want a child custody attorney who will put your children’s best interests first. While every case is different, it’s important to find an attorney with specific skills and experience working with family law cases dealing with children
These skills and experiences are critical to ensuring that you have the support you and your child both need during this difficult time.
Some of the things you should look for in a child custody attorney include:
- Experience – You want someone who has experience handling timesharing schedules and parenting plans. Not only could this make a difference when it comes to the final outcome of your case, but also when it comes to protecting the stability of your child or children and your rights throughout the process.
- Flexibility – Family situations are often quite complex, so you need an attorney that can work with you to meet your unique needs and circumstances. Because every family is unique, flexibility is key.
- Communication – Your attorneys should be available when you need them. If they’re not available, then how can they help you? Communication is critical at each step of the process and after your case is finished; communication will also help ensure your questions are answered correctly and thoroughly. You can rest assured that at the Figueroa Law Group, P.A. we have a team of attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants and an administrative team that work together to help you through every aspect of your case.
At Figueroa Law Group, P.A, we pride ourselves on being able to take on a wide variety of family law cases. As long as there is a doubt about the best resolution of a case, we will do everything we can to help you find that resolution. We have over 38 combined years of experience in divorce, child custody and support, paternity, and domestic violence cases. Parents who hire attorneys like ours can be assured that they have someone looking out for their best interests and their child or children as well—someone who is experienced at navigating these kinds of situations as quickly as possible.
What is Child Custody?
Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes states that in a divorce or child custody case in Florida, unless the parents can agree, the judge will decide how time-sharing will be divided between the parents based on what is in the best interests for the children. Florida law does not determine which parent is awarded custody. Instead, the timesharing schedule and related issues including communication, transportation and other arrangements will be based on the evidence considering the factors in Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes
Timesharing is developed in a parenting plan determines and details where and how the children will spend time with each parent overnight. You and the other parent of your child or children may share timesharing, or, in limited circumstances, only one of you may be awarded timesharing
The law presumes that frequent and continuing contact with both parents is optimal for children. There is no presumption in favor of one parenting plan over another. Judges are guided by this presumption, unless there is a compelling reason not to, such as if one parent lives far away, is abusive, or has a history of being unreliable or unavailable for the children. Keep in mind that the kids’ needs come first at all times. Where the children live far away, the Judge can fashion a long distance parenting plan, unless, of course, you can agree with the other parent.
Parental responsibility includes decisions regarding the children’s religious education, school and tutor selection, extracurricular activities, medical and mental health care, and more.
Parental responsibility may be shared, Judges typically order shared parental responsibility so both parents can confer and continue making significant decisions for their children. Shared parental responsibility is preferred unless there is a compelling reason to give sole parental responsibility to one parent and shared parental responsibility is detrimental to the minor child or children.
Details to include in a parenting plan include:
- A specific timesharing plan that includes overnights and holidays and how much time the child or children will spend with each parent.
- Shared parental responsibility or Sole Parental Responsibility if detrimental to the child or children, Ultimate Responsibility over specific aspects of the child or children’s welfare
- How the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks for the child or children
- Parental consent to mental health treatment for the minor child or children
- School related matters including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration
- Extra-curricular activities
- Each parent’s contributions to daycare and after-school activity transportation
- How each parent will communicate with the child or children as well as frequency and communication with each other. Include the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with their child or children.
- Any other issues including but not limited to passports, travelling out of state and travelling out of the county
After you have reached an agreed parenting plan, the court must approve it and determine that it is in the best interests of the child or children. If you and the other parent of your child cannot come to an agreement, the court will create a plan for you, designing it with the child’s best interests in mind with consideration to the factors outlined in Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes.
How Will a Florida Judge Determine Timesharing?
In Florida, the child’s best interests are always the primary consideration for a Judge. Judges anticipate that parents will prioritize their children’s needs over their own. A court will explore the degree to which each parent has demonstrated the understanding to show a willingness to meet a child’s developmental needs and to be actively involved in the child’s life.
In Florida, the following factors are pertinent to a child’s best interests:
- The willingness of each parent to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent and to be flexible with timesharing
- The division of parental responsibilities when the case is over
- The capacity of each parent to meet and put the child’s needs first
- the physical and mental health of each parent
- The length of time that a child lived in a stable environment and desirability of maintaining continuity
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan considering the needs of school-age children and the amount of time of travelling
- Each parent’s capacity to provide a consistent routine for their child.
- Each parent’s capacity to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment or neglect
- Evidence that either parent knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence of child abuse
- Parent’s capacity to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities
- The capacity of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse
- The capacity of each parent to provide a secure and stable environment for the child
- The capacity of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation
- developmental age, needs, and abilities of the child
- any other factor relevant to determine the parenting plan including the timesharing schedule
Modifications to Parenting Plans
If you are currently living under the terms of a parenting plan that no longer meets your needs or reflects your lifestyle, you may be able to request a modification through the court and be able to prove a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is tin the best interest of the child. Determination of the best interest of the child is made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interest of the child and the circumstances of the family per Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes. Courts have broad discretion when granting modifications. The process involves proper analysis and preparation of the case so working with a skilled Melbourne, FL, child custody attorney is in your best interest.
Contact the Figueroa Law Group, P.A.
Custody cases can be extremely time-consuming and emotional. With so much at stake, you deserve the support of our hardworking, compassionate team at the Figueroa Law Group, P.A. Since 1988, we have been helping families overcome the challenges of custody disputes. You can count on us to work diligently and professionally to achieve your goals. However, results cannot be guaranteed.