In Florida, what is most often referred to as child custody is broken down into two main categories: "time sharing," and "parental responsibility." This is done to try to make a clear distinction between the time spent with the child, and the responsibility for the decisions made about the child. Decisions about both of these categories are not taken lightly. Judges take countless factors into consideration before making any decisions about them.
Raising a child isn't something that should be taken lightly. It's about far more than just getting the child to adulthood.
Before you're given custody of your child, an evaluation is being carried out. Understandably, you're nervous. Doing well is critical to the future of your family and your relationship with the child.
One woman told a post-divorce story about one of the hardest times that she faced. Her kids had been spending time with their father, but the custody schedule said they needed to come back and stay at her house.
You may have heard people tell you that divorce is not just about you and your spouse, but that it's also about the kids. You have to think about them through every step in the process.
Gone are the days when divorce meant the kids would spend all week with Mom and only see Dad on the occasional weekend. Today, families are free to pursue more flexible arrangements that reflect their unique needs - and promote strong relationships with both parents.
In child custody proceedings, when both parents cannot agree on an appropriate arrangement, the task of a family court is to step in and make a decision in the best interests of the child. In making this decision, family court judges take into account a variety of factors, including the needs of the child, the ability of the parents to provide for the child’s needs, and certainly things like history of abuse, neglect, and domestic violence.
Last time, we began looking at how family courts in Florida address the issue of parental alienation in divorce. The issue is, of course, more likely to come up in contentious divorce cases, where parents are bitter toward one another and unwilling to cooperate for the benefit of their children. As we noted, family courts will take into account any evidence of parental alienation in making an initial decision about child custody and parenting time.
Previously, we noted that Florida courts are bound by a public policy that parents should have shared parental responsibility unless this would be detrimental to the child. Family courts consider a variety of factors in determining whether a proposed parental responsibility or parenting plan arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
In Florida, as in other states, courts make decisions about child custody with the primary aim of ensuring the best interests of the child are met in any given arrangement. In Florida, the public policy is that minor children continue to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after divorce, and courts will order shared parental responsibility unless it can be shown that doing so would be detrimental to the child.