Our Palatka Child Custody Attorneys Can Offer the Guidance You Need
Every experienced Palatka child custody lawyer at Douglas Law Firm understands that the most difficult aspects of a separation or divorce can involve the children and visitation schedules. Not every parent agrees on how time should be shared with their children. This is especially true when there is a divorce or paternity case that has been initiated or on the horizon. If you are the parent of a minor child in Florida, and you are involved in a child custody case dispute with the mother or father of that child, you are going to need an experienced child custody attorney who will fight for your parental rights.
Here in Florida, courts do not view children as property of their parents, so the old familiar terms such as “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced with a more unifying concept of "timesharing" or "joint legal custody". Florida law considers the best interests of a child in custody cases and so do we! Often times, when and where you get to spend time with your children is the most critical part of split custody.
Most people are surprised to learn that there is no presumption for either parent or any type of parenting plan, in Florida. The family court laws encourage parents to come to a shared child custody agreement, but if the parents cannot agree, a court could decide for you. A visitation schedule should include provisions that address the time-sharing schedule, the daily tasks of childcare, and the parental authority for medical, educational, and travel decisions. Our family law and child custody attorneys thoroughly understand all of the factors in child custody law and how to analyze deciding on a parenting plan or child custody schedule, and we fight to optimize your time, in support of the best interests of the children.
Our Palatka Child Custody Lawyer Explains Common Types of Custody Arrangements
Courts tend to focus on one, overarching question when deciding child custody: What is in the child’s best interest? A Palatka child custody attorney at Douglas Law Firm can ensure that your voice is heard during the process.
There are four types of child custody arrangements in Florida:
- Physical Custody: This form of custody refers to where the child lives. When a child splits time between parents, this is often called “timesharing.”
- Legal Custody: This type of custody determines who has the parental right to make decisions about the child’s life. That includes decisions about education, religion, and medical care, among other issues. Courts often order shared legal custody, meaning that parents will have to work together to make these decisions.
- Sole Custody: Under this type of custody, one parent has full physical and/or legal custody of the child. Sole custody is typically reserved for situations in which the non-custodial parent has a track record of violence, abuse, substance issues, or criminal activity. In some circumstances, courts or custody mediation will award sole legal custody to one parent while also ordering the parents to share joint physical custody.
- Joint Custody: As the name suggests, parents share physical and/or legal custody in these arrangements and parental responsibilities. Florida courts tend to favor joint legal custody as it's in the best interest of the child. That requires significant collaboration among parents, including coming up with a schedule for child visitation on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Child Custody Modification: Child Custody orders can be modified by court order. A custody modification typically requires an agreement by both parents or proof by the parent seeking the custody modification that it is justified by a change in circumstances. A Palatka child custody lawyer can help you modify your child custody order or oppose a custody modification request.
Although child custody decisions can be some of the most emotional and stressful parts of a divorce, they do not always have to be. Florida law gives parents significant power to determine among themselves how custody and visitation time will be divided. Spouses can reach these decisions without having a judge do it for them. That is not always possible, but it is an option worth exploring. A Palatka child custody attorney at Douglas Law Firm can help you explore these kinds of resolutions, including through mediation.
What is a Parenting Plan?
Your Palatka child custody attorney can work with you to develop a parenting plan, which is essentially a road map of sorts that describes in detail where the children will live, how much time the kids will spend with each parent, and how parenting responsibilities will be shared. That includes a time-sharing schedule detailing which holidays, school breaks, and overnight stays will be spent with each parent.
A parenting plan is vital in joint custody situations to ensure that the child is properly cared for, that the family situation is relatively stable and that each parents’ rights are protected. It is often required by courts and entered into the record as part of a child custody order, making the plan a legally binding document. If parents cannot agree to a plan, the court will step in and order its own parenting plan.
Courts look at a variety of factors when reviewing a parenting plan, including each parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable home life for the child, the geographic locations of the parents, and the child’s needs.
Contact our Knowledgeable Palatka Child Custody Lawyers Today to Learn More
To learn more about how a Palatka child custody lawyer can help you and your family, contact us online or call 800-705-5457 for a free consultation. Douglas Law Firm has offices in Palatka, Orange Park, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville.