Melbourne, FL Child Custody Attorneys
Always Acting in Your Child’s Best Interests
If you and your divorcing spouse have children, you must follow Florida’s child custody laws to determine how your child’s time will be split 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.
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 of various types. These skills and experiences are critical to ensuring you have the support you 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 child custody and visitation cases. Not only could this make a difference when it comes to the final outcome of your case, but also when it comes to protecting 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 attorney 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.
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 15 years of experience in divorce, child custody and support, paternity, and domestic violence cases. Parents who hire an attorney like ours can be assured that they have someone looking out for their best interests—someone who is experienced at navigating these kinds of situations as quickly as possible.
What is Child Custody?
Florida Statute 61.13 says that in a divorce or child custody case in Florida, the judge will decide how time-sharing will be split between the parents based on what is best for the children. Florida custody law does not favor either mothers or fathers when deciding who gets custody of a child. Instead, the custody arrangement will be based on the evidence and circumstances of each case.
The two important legal elements of child custody are physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is determined by where the children reside. You and the other parent of your children may share physical custody, or only one of you may be awarded physical custody. The legal term for sharing physical custody is joint custody. This is known as sole physical custody if the children reside with only one parent.
The law presumes that continuous contact with both parents is optimal for children. Judges prefer joint physical custody 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.
Legal custody encompasses virtually everything that physical custody does not, including decisions regarding the children’s religious education, school and tutor selection, extracurricular activities, medical and mental health care, and more.
Legal custody, like physical custody, may be shared (called joint legal custody) or not (sole legal custody) (sole legal custody). Similar to physical custody, judges prefer joint legal custody so both parents can continue making significant decisions for their children. Judges typically award joint legal custody unless there is a compelling reason to give sole legal custody to one parent.
The authority of a parent to make decisions on behalf of a child is referred to as “parental responsibility.” A parent with legal custody has the authority to make significant decisions regarding the child’s best interest, education, and health.
For both parents to have an equal say in their child’s upbringing, judges frequently prefer to grant joint legal custody. In situations where both parents can agree, the custodial parent will have the full decision in all child-related decisions.
Time-Sharing in Florida
In 2008, the state of Florida replaced custody and visitation laws with the concept of shared parenting. Now, parents must work together to create a parenting plan that outlines when and where the child will spend his or her time with each parent.
Details to include in a parenting plan include:
- Where the child will go to school
- Each parent’s responsibilities regarding the child’s health care
- Each parent’s contributions to daycare and after-school activity transportation
- How each parent will communicate with the child
- How much time the child will live with or visit each parent
After you have reached an agreed parenting plan, the court must approve it. 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.
How Will a Florida Judge Determine Custody?
In Florida, the child’s best interests are central to child custody decisions. 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 drive and 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
- The capacity of each parent to meet the child’s needs
- the physical and mental health of each parent
- each parent’s character
- Each parent’s capacity to provide a consistent routine for their child.
- The parenting plan’s geographical viability, especially the travel required to comply with the time-sharing arrangement.
- child’s adaptation to the family and community
- a child’s reasonable choice if of sufficient age and comprehension
- domestic violence evidence, if any
- The capacity of each parent to provide a secure and stable environment for the child
- developmental age, needs, and abilities of the child
Modifications to Child Custody Arrangements
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. Courts have broad discretion when granting modifications. The process can be difficult, 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.