Our children are the most important people in our lives. Everything we do is to make their lives better.
When a relationship or marriage doesn’t work out, it’s hard enough that you’re left to pick up the pieces. But when children are involved after a breakup, there’s an added layer of concern for their best interests.
Whether you’re facing separation, a divorce, or a possible child custody battle with your child’s other parent, a Miami child custody and timesharing attorney can help. Ensure your parental rights are protected, and your child’s safety and quality of life are kept at the forefront of the discussion.
In Florida family law, both parents have certain rights regarding their children, and one parent doesn’t have greater rights than the other when they are married. But when the parents are not married, an unwed Mother has 100% of the timesharing rights and all rights to make decisions for the children. This makes it very important for the Father to obtain a court order giving him his parental rights. This is the case even if that Father is on the birth certificate.
As a default, public policy states that children should have continuous and frequent contact with their parents.
In 2008, Florida courts changed family law statutes regarding child custody. The terms “custody” and “visitation” have now been replaced with what the courts call “parental responsibility” and “time-sharing.”
The purpose of these changes in the statute language was to establish that both parents are entitled to take an active role in their children’s lives. It also encourages parents to work together to resolve issues and have meaningful relationships with their children.
Parental responsibility in Florida refers to both the father’s and the mother’s right and duty to make all decisions for their shared children.
These decisions include:
Florida courts favor joint custody—or shared parental responsibility—which is a model that gives both parents equal decision-making rights when it comes to their children.
In cases where shared decision-making could pose a risk to the child, the court may grant sole custody to one parent.
The court will decide on sole parental responsibility over joint legal custody based on the following for each parent:
The court’s determination must be based entirely on the child’s best interests and does not favor one parent over the other.
Time-sharing refers to specifically outlined times children spend with each of their parents. A time-sharing order also outlines the methods each parent will use to communicate with their child outside of the times the child is with them.
A judge sometimes orders time-sharing schedules during a divorce or paternity trial if parents can’t agree. They can also be discussed in settlement negotiations out of court with a proposed schedule and parenting plan, but they must submit them to the court for approval.
Parents who get divorced or unmarried people who share children must create a parenting plan that outlines how they intend to accomplish successful co-parenting while living separately.
A standard parenting plan in Florida outlines:
Both parents can agree on the plan, and the court will approve it as long as it is in the children’s best interest or the court can make a final determination to ensure the child’s best interests are being met.
It’s important to resolve the time-sharing schedule before establishing a child support order because child support is calculated while considering the number of overnights the child has with each parent.
Florida family law allows child support to be reduced if the parent paying it has the child overnight for more than 73 nights—20% of total nights—in one year.
In these situations, parents who have their children overnight for a significant amount of time reduce child support and incur higher expenses than those who don’t spend as many nights with their children.
Your child’s best interest usually means having quality time and connection with both parents.
If you’re facing a possible divorce or custody case and want to ensure that your rights as a parent are secured, speak with a knowledgeable and experienced child custody lawyer in Miami.
A minor child does not have the right to refuse to see their parents, and one parent cannot refuse to grant the other parent time-sharing.
If it’s found that a mother is preventing a father from seeing their shared child, for example, the mother could be found in contempt of court and liable for makeup timesharing. In more extreme cases, the court can change the timesharing schedule.
That being said, courts may consider the child’s preference when determining a time-sharing schedule depending on their age and maturity level. The child’s best interest is always paramount.
There are some situations where the court will rule that a mother or a father is unfit to have parental responsibility, including time-sharing. This is particularly true in cases with a history of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
The court may also find someone unfit if they struggle with substance abuse or mental illness. In some situations, the court may grant supervised visitation for an unfit parent.
Speak with a Miami child custody attorney to determine your options in addressing an unfit parent.
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