In Florida, the traditional term “custody” has been replaced with terms such as parental responsibility and time-sharing to better reflect the intentions of state lawmakers to create a system in which both parents are active in the child’s life and where the child has access to both parents. If you are planning to divorce and have minor children in the home, a Miami child custody lawyer from Vasquez de Lara Law Group can help you develop a parenting plan that reflects your child’s best interest.
How Custody in Miami is Handled
In most locations, child custody refers to the parent’s legal right to make decisions for their children—such as where they will attend school, which church they will attend, or the extra-curricular activities they participate in—and which parent the child primarily resides with.
In Florida, legal custody is referred to as parental responsibility and physical custody is referred to as time-sharing. The particulars of parental responsibility and time-sharing are spelled out in a parenting plan. If the divorced parents do not develop this plan through mediation or an agreement, the court will develop the plan.
As of July 1, 2023, equal time-sharing is the default for child custody cases. It is presumed that spending equal time with both parents is in the child’s best interests. However, this belief can be challenged if either parent can present strong evidence that equal time sharing is not what’s best for the child.
The Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is a document that is included in both temporary orders as well as the final divorce orders. This plan provides a clear outline of child custody issues such as:
- A parenting time schedule, including how time sharing during holidays will be shared.
- How communication about the children will be handled between the parents.
- Provisions for extra-curricular activities.
- How decisions such as extracurriculars, medical or dental situations, and religious instructions will be shared.
- The particulars of transportation and child exchanges will work.
- How decisions about out-of-state or country travel will be handled.
Generally, if parents submit their plan to the judge together, the judge will agree to the provisions, provided the plan is complete and clear.
Modifying a Parenting Plan
Parenting plans can be updated as the child grows and their needs change. If both parents agree to the post-judgment modifications in the parenting plan, the process of changing the agreement often consists of submitting the updates and a signed statement that both parents agree. However, in some cases, a parent can request that the court modify the parenting plan for other reasons, such as:
- The belief that the child’s safety is at risk if the parenting plan continues.
- One parent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances that makes them unable to meet the parental responsibility and time-sharing obligations that they were granted through the original plan.
- There is a substantial benefit to be gained by the child from a modification in the agreement.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Miami Child Custody Matters
An experienced Miami child custody attorney can work with parents who are mainly in agreement about parental responsibility and time-sharing to develop a parenting plan that is clear and complete.
Additionally, if a parent is seeking full custody or wishes to modify a parenting plan against the other parent’s wishes, an attorney can provide guidance on the evidence needed to prove the cause for the modification.
Need a Divorce Lawyer in Miami?
Handling your divorce case or custody dispute is not easy without an attorney. It’s also not the best choice. Family court is very procedural. You may have all it takes to win your case, but just filing something wrong can cause massive delays and increase the chances of losing in court. Call the child custody lawyers at Vasquez de Lara Law Group to schedule a free case evaluation.