Parents of children who are not married and decide to separate will often find it necessary to address child custody issues in court. Similar to divorce proceedings, a party may bring a paternity action, even if paternity has been previously established by law, to resolve parental responsibility, child time-sharing, and child support.
Proceedings involving child custody will follow a similar path and timeline as divorce proceedings. The court will use many of the same factors to decide issues with children in a divorce proceeding in making those determinations.
Parental responsibility may be joint or individual and addresses issues such as who will decide school enrolment, children’s participation in extracurriculars, and the general decisions regarding the children’s health and welfare.
A timesharing agreement between the parents regarding a visitation schedule with the children will need to be established. A timeshare schedule will typically address who will exercise visitation at specific times, depending on whether it is during the school year, summer vacation, or other holidays.
Child support is calculated based upon a formula established by law, considering such factors as overnights spent with the parents in the time-sharing schedule, the parties’ incomes, and other factors such as payments for health insurance and childcare.
The court may deviate from the child support guidelines, but it is important to include such a request in the appropriate child custody pleadings.
Working out a parenting plan can be challenging, as there are many factors and situations you must anticipate and consider. As an experienced Lakeland Child Custody Attorney, I can help you evaluate and put into writing a thorough parenting plan that the court will approve.
Two concepts form the basis of Florida child custody law: (1) the continuity of the parent-child relationship is generally in the child’s best interest, and (2) the needs of children change and evolve as they mature. Speaking to the first concept, during the initial child custody proceedings, the court will act with your child’s best interests in mind, considering his or her health, comfort and safety, while listening to the points made by you and your child’s other parent. Then, the court may grant either sole custody or joint custody based on its findings.
With sole custody, the court may approve visitation rights for the noncustodial parent, but the noncustodial parent cannot exercise legal authority on the child’s behalf. With joint custody, the parents share in their child’s legal and physical custody, making decisions together about their child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing, and they usually have about equal parenting time. Speaking to the second concept, a child may choose who he or she wants to live with upon reaching age 14 and may request a change in custody once every two years after that.
For legal help in any child custody matter, please contact Joshua W. Westcott, Lakeland Child Custody Attorney. He is an experienced child custody attorney who knows how Florida courts work through child custody issues and will bring his knowledge to bear in your child custody case.
Call us today at (863) 660-2223 for a free consultation regarding your legal matters.