Florida law recognizes that children benefit from contact with both parents and emphasize co-parenting following a divorce. Both parents have equal rights to custody and the parenting of their children. A child’s best interest is the foundation of any decision made by the court in child custody. Some of the factors central to child custody decisions are the parents’ ability to meet the child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. It includes assessing the parents’ moral fitness, the child’s developmental age, and the parents’ capacity to provide a safe and secure environment. Custody of a child is in jeopardy for a parent who has demonstrated domestic violence, substance abuse, or illegal behaviors.
The Parenting Plan details the rights and responsibilities of parents for custody and timesharing of minor children. If the parents agree on a reasonable plan in the child’s best interests, it is reviewed and approved by the court as part of a divorce decree. If the parents are in dispute regarding the terms of the Parenting Plan, the court will establish the plan with or without the parents’ recommendations.
A parenting plan needs to reflect each family’s unique circumstances and dynamics. A basic plan is appropriate for parents who agree on most aspects of timesharing and responsibilities, live within 50 miles from each other, and communicate reasonably well. There cannot be a history of domestic violence or substance abuse.
For parents who live more than 50 miles from each other, there is a long-distance plan. It has the same criteria as the basic plan, with additional details about communication and travel for the child.
A safety-focused plan is for families at risk for domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, and criminal activity. This plan includes supervised or no overnight visits with the parent that poses a risk to the child. In some cases, the court may deny all timesharing with the child. There are strict restrictions on firearms, discipline, and substance abuse.
Our law firm offers caring and compassionate representation for child custody matters. Attorneys Gayle Boudreau and Robert A. Sandow, Attorney of Counsel, believe the focus in a custody battle should always be the child’s needs. Our goal is to help the parents create a parenting plan that encourages the child to thrive. We can guide you through the legal process to develop, negotiate, and execute a custody and parenting plan that is best for your family. In the future, if the custody and parenting plan no longer serves the best interest of the child due to significant lifestyle changes, we can petition the court for a modification.