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 visitation lawyer 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.
What are a Parent’s Visitation Rights in Florida?
In Florida family law, both parents have certain rights regarding their children, and one parent doesn’t have greater rights than the other when 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.
Parental Responsibility and Time Sharing in Florida
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 statutory 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.
What Does Parental Responsibility Include?
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:
- Education determinations, like where the child will go to school
- Healthcare choices, including who the child’s doctor will be
- Religious decisions, such as which faith—if any—the child will be taught
- Day-to-day life decisions, like where the child will live
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:
- Employment status and job security
- Moral fitness
- Emotional attachment to the child
- Knowledge of the child’s schedule, interests, schooling, medical history, and community connections
- History of domestic violence or child abuse
The court’s determination must be based entirely on the child’s best interests and not favor one parent over the other.
How is Time-Sharing Determined in Florida Custody Cases?
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 judgement 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.
What Parenting Plans Include
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:
- Whether sole or shared parental responsibility is established
- A time-sharing schedule outlining weekdays, weekends, holidays, and school breaks
- Where and when transitions between parents will occur
- How the child will be transported between parents
- Childcare determinations
- Notification requirements for vacations and travel
- How parents will communicate with the child when they are with the other parent
- Planning for and sharing healthcare responsibilities and information
- How parents will split costs for out-of-pocket expenses
- The observance of religious services, holidays, and instruction
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.
Florida Child Support and Overnights
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.
Let a Miami Child Visitation Lawyer Help
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, schedule a free case evaluation with a knowledgeable and experienced child custody lawyer in Miami. At Vasquez de Lara Law Group, we strive to be the best family law firm in Miami and have been recognized by reputable organizations, like Expertise, Super Lawyers, and Justia, as a trusted and respected presence in our community.
When you work with us, you gain an ally who is dedicated to understanding your unique situation and advocating for your best interests.