child custody

Child Custody & Florida Law: What You Need to Know

Divorce is one of the more emotionally difficult experiences a family can experience. When determining child custody, parents will often disagree on how best to share parental responsibilities. If you or someone you know is going through the process of divorce, the law office of Paul H. Bowen, P.A. is an experienced family law office with decades worth of experience in cases regarding child custody.

Child Custody Terms

The state of Florida, in 2008, chose to remove words such as “custody,” “custodial,” “non-custodial,” “primary residence,” and “visitation” from the legal vocabulary. Though these terms are still used in conversation with your attorney, as they are familiar, the court now prefers the term “responsibility” instead of custody. Custody is associated with possession of a child, whereas the term responsibility is more in line with the expectations of parenthood.

Other Important Terms:

Some important terms to have in your back pocket include:

  • Shared parental responsibility: when both parents have an equal say in decisions regarding their child.
  • Sole parental responsibility: When one parent is responsible for decision-making as it pertains to the child; decisions such as medical treatments, school district, diet, etc.
  • Time-sharing: Refers to where the child will live as their primary residence.
  • Majority time-sharing: The parental home where the child lives most often.
  • Equal time-sharing: When both parents have shared responsibility and the child spends an equal amount of time living at each address.

In the state of Florida, the default is shared parental responsibility.

Custody vs Best Interest of Child

Most parents want what is best for their children. However, the difficult nature of divorce can sometimes cloud a parent’s thinking. Though the courts preferred choice is shared parental responsibility, it will always act in the best interest of the child. What predicates “best interest” will vary depending on each individual’s situation, but several common considerations worth noting are found below.

  • The physical health of each parent
  • The mental health of each parent
  • Religious considerations
  • The child’s wishes
  • The child’s need or desire to interact with extended family
  • The age and sex of the child
  • Any previous pattern of domestic violence, abuse, or drug use

Deciding Parental Responsibility

It will always be best for both parents to come to a mutually agreed upon arrangement. If this cannot be achieved both parents will be responsible for putting together a time-sharing and parenting plan. This document must be highly detailed, well thought out, and must prove the time-sharing arrangement to be in the best interest of the child.

Once this document is submitted to the court, the judge will make a decision, taking many factors into consideration. In addition to the list above, when deciding child custody, the judge may also consider:

  • The parents’ ability to provide a stable environment
  • The parents’ ability or willingness to offer contact with the other parent
  • The moral fitness of each parent
  • The job security of each parent
  • The parents’ ability to provide a consistent schedule for the child

Child Custody Lawyer Near Me

If you live in Palm Harbor, Florida or the surrounding area, the law offices of Paul H. Bowen P.A. has decades of experience helping families quickly and effectively solve any child custody case. If you or someone you know is going through the process of divorce and in need of a child custody lawyer, don’t hesitate to contact our offices today to set up a free consultation.