WHO GETS THE CHILDREN?

There was a time when mothers were automatically given custody of the children after a divorce. Those days are long gone. Today, the court recognizes that parents share responsibility for their children. Mothers and fathers are treated equally under the law. Both are encouraged to have frequent contact and ongoing relationships with their children.

At Orner Law, LLC, our South Florida family law attorneys help clients establish and modify child custody agreements. We can help you whether you are contemplating divorce or need your court-ordered child custody agreement changed to reflect changing circumstances. To arrange an initial consultation about your situation, please call us at 561-347-1336.

“SHARED RESPONSIBILITY” AND “TIME SHARING” VERSUS “CUSTODY” AND “VISITATION”

Historically, one parent (again, usually the mother) was typically given custody.  The father was normally given the right to visit the child on a set schedule. As is true in many states, in recent years Florida law has evolved from this model toward one that emphasizes shared parental responsibility for and time with, the child.

Shared parental responsibility means that both parents are involved in decisions about their children’s health, education, welfare, religious upbringing and support. Even if one party owes child support to the other, for example, he or she continues to participate in parenting the child.

Although the court has significant discretion in adopting a shared responsibility and time sharing plan, the overriding consideration is the best interests of the child. Florida law specifies a number of factors that must be considered.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s mental and physical health and “moral fitness”.
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent, to refrain from making negative comments about the other in front of the child, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities, to communicate with the other parent regarding the child’s activities and to cooperate in making significant decisions regarding the child’s well being or future.
  • Each parent’s ability to put the child’s best interests ahead of his or her own desires, and to provide a consistent routine and, appropriate discipline.
  • The effect of any necessary long distance travel on the child, especially one of school age.
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child, and the ability and willingness of each parent to meet them.

If the child is of sufficient age, maturity and intelligence, the court may also consider his or her preferences.

The court must also take into account certain negative information, such as a history of abuse or neglect by either parent, as well as any attempt to conceal such history from the court.

CONSULT A SOUTH FLORIDA DIVORCE LAWYER

At Orner Law, LLC, our lawyers help clients work out parenting plans that meet their specific needs. In some cases, parents share parenting time 50/50. In others, children live primarily with one parent, but have frequent visits with the other.

We encourage clients to work out an arrangement with their children’s other parent. If such an agreement cannot be achieved through negotiation or mediation, we are fully equipped to take your child custody case to court.

With offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Orner Law, LLC serves clients throughout South Florida.

To learn more about our services, please contact a South Florida child custody attorney at our firm for an initial consultation.