Interestingly, the term “custody” is no longer found in the Florida Statutes. Effective October 1, 2008, the parties are required to enter into a “parenting plan” which includes a “time-sharing schedule.” In general, courts will make time sharing decisions based on the “Best Interest of the Child” standards. Factors that are considered before reaching these decisions include which parent is most likely to allow open and frequent access to the children by the non-custodial parent and other important family members; which parent is the better nurturer; the children’s relationships with the respective parents; each parent’s work hours; and the relative stability that each household could provide.
Children and Divorce: Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is an order outlining the timesharing of their children. It takes into account arrangements such as who has the children on which days; who makes major decisions about the children’s education, health, etc.; and what to do if any party’s situation significantly changes. Ultimately, it is best for the parents to work together to come up with a parenting plan. However, if the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, Florida courts require the parents to participate in mediation before a court will make a final decision in the matter. Florida also requires the parents to complete a parenting class that complies with the requirements of the county where the case has been filed.
Evaluating Child Custody & Child Visitation Time
One or both parents may also choose to have a formal child custody, parenting time evaluation conducted to determine which parent should be the primary custodial parent and what the parenting time/residential schedule should be for the parents and the child. The custody evaluator is typically a licensed social worker, but may have other credentials such as a degree in psychology. The custody evaluator will interview both parents extensively, meet with the child, observe the child while interacting separately with each of the parents, and interview collateral references.
We serve clients throughout the Tampa Bay area, including Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and are conveniently located in the historic Hyde Park area.
If you have issues related to child custody such as determining a parenting plan, relocation, or simply have questions regarding your legal rights, we encourage you to contact us. We pride ourselves in being both compassionate and empathetic toward all of our clients or potential clients, regardless of his or her situation. Our clients regard us as very approachable and easy to talk to. We have been successful in settling many divorce cases to our clients’ satisfaction, thus saving them significant legal fees that are often associated with taking a divorce case all the way to trial. While we strongly believe that parties should make every effort to resolve his/her case outside of the courtroom whenever possible, we will not hesitate to take a case to trial when the situation calls for resolution by a judge.
At the Bowes Law Group, we work closely with you so that you can develop a sense of what to expect during and following your legal proceeding. We help you define your immediate concerns and objectives, and help you articulate your vision of what a successful long-range outcome might be for yourself, your children, and your extended family. At all times, we make sure that your goals are based on a realistic understanding of your rights and responsibilities under Florida law.
If you are seeking the representation of a dedicated and compassionate team of child custody attorneys contact the Bowes Law Group today.