PhoneSchedule Your Consultation Now (813) 519-5919

Child custody and visitation: Legal arrangements for child care and parental access -The Family Law Firm Of Tampa Bay

Perhaps the most difficult part of divorce is dealing with matters involving your children. Kids are a common source of tension and conflict during Divorce in Florida, as parents fight over child custody, child visitation, or even child support. With nearly 40% of divorcing parents having minor children, it is important to understand the rules of child custody in Florida, including:

  • How temporary custody and final custody are determined in Florida divorces.
  • How visitation arrangements are usually organized during Florida divorce.
  • How to deal with a relocating parent or petition to change custody or visitation.

Who Has Custody During The Divorce Process In Florida And How, When Is That Determined?

Even in the best of circumstances, divorces are not resolved overnight but can take months (or years) to be finalized. During this time, someone has to have legal and physical custody over any minor children.

Fortunately, in Florida, most counties will issue a standing family law order if there are minor children involved in the divorce. That means that both parents will have a right to frequent and ongoing communication and time-sharing with the child(ren). Once the divorce is finalized, the permanent custody outcome is determined.

For fathers in Florida, the situation can be somewhat complicated. If you were married at the time of the child’s birth, you are presumed to be the biological father of the child. If you were unmarried or not on the birth certificate, however, you would have to file a petition to establish paternity, timesharing, and child support. Then you just have to wait until the court establishes paternity, which ultimately gives you parental rights and custody rights during the divorce under the standing family law order.

What Happens If My Spouse And I Cannot Agree On Custody Or Other Matters In Our Divorce?

If you can't agree on custody or other matters in your divorce, you will have a chance to resolve them in mediation. However, it is important to get the help of an attorney early on so you can start preparing to set a pretrial conference and, ultimately, a trial or a final hearing on all of the issues that you might be unable to agree on.

How Is Final Custody Determined When Parents Are Not Married Or Are Divorcing In Florida?

In Florida, there are two ways that final custody can be determined. You and your spouse can either reach an agreement on what the final custody arrangement will be or the court will decide after a trial.

Florida law is quite clear about the factors that go into deciding which parent(s) will receive ultimate legal and physical custody of children after a divorce. There are, in fact, more than 20 such factors, collectively called the “best interest factors” (Florida statute section 61.13), which the parties and court will review during the divorce process.

That is one reason why mediation is such an incredibly important step during divorce. You and your spouse will know your lives and your children's lives a lot better than any judge, so mediation gives you a chance to write out a realistic parenting plan rather than having an arbitrary one imposed upon you by the courts.

Now, as of July 1st, 2023, there is a rebuttable presumption that 50-50 time-sharing is in the best interest of the child or children. This means that the default custody arrangement is an equal split, but people are not really focusing on the ‘rebuttable’ part of this rule.

As a result, you will still have to go through all of the factors, and if the factors do not weigh in favor of 50-50 being in the best interest of the child, then 50-50 will not be granted. Therefore, it is vital not to make assumptions and to work with an experienced child custody attorney to reach the best outcome for you and your family.

What Are The Main Questions Or Concerns Parents Have Regarding The New Child Custody Laws In Florida?

As of July 1, 2023, the statute for custody arrangements changed, and the presumption is now that 50-50 timesharing is in the best interest of the child or children. Many parents worry about this, concerned that they will get only 50-50 time sharing when they believe they deserve more.

Often, concerned moms will ask why a father who has never been involved will be getting a 50-50 split with this new change – but it is important to remember that the presumption is rebuttable; in other words, it’s up for debate.

In the end, we will go through each of the 20+ best interest factors, and we will determine in whose favor it leans. If most lean towards the mother, that will be important in determining the outcome. Yes, some dads who have not been spending that much time with their kids will still get 50-50 if these factors are enough to weigh in their favor, but it is by no means automatic.

What Visitation Arrangements Can Be Used For Parents Who Are No Longer Raising A Child Together?

If you and your ex are no longer living together, a visitation schedule of some kind will need to be worked out in addition to the custody agreement.

There are all sorts of arrangements and time-sharing schedules that can be utilized for parents who are no longer raising a child together. Which one you opt for will depend on what you are looking for or the decision of the court if you cannot reach an agreement.

For a 50-50 time-sharing schedule, for example, you could opt for one week on, one week off, but you could also choose to have one parent receive more of the holiday time or opt for two days on, two days off, etc. You are free to get creative when figuring out your child visitation agreement as long as you remain within whatever split (50-50, 60-40, 70-30) was determined by either your agreement or a court order.

When Can A Parent Relocate With A Child Under Florida Family Law?

In the modern economy, obtaining job opportunities across the state, or even across the country, is a more and more frequent occurrence. This can leave parents with shared custody of a child in a tough situation.

A parent can relocate with a child under Florida family law if the parties agree to the relocation or you file for one and get it approved by the court. If you and your ex are unable to agree, you will have to file a petition for relocation.

This process is much like filing for divorce or for custody in the first place. You have to serve the necessary papers to the other party, who gets 20 days to respond. You are not allowed to move out of the state of Florida until you get that order or you have an agreement with the other parent.

Can I Stop A Parent From Relocating With My Child In Florida?

The truth is that many parents will not want to let their children move so far away from them – and that is completely understandable. However, while there is nothing you can do to stop your ex from relocating when there is a minor child involved, you can object to the relocation.

To object to the relocation of your ex with your child, you would have to go through the same process that you would for a trial or a final hearing. The other spouse’s petition for relocation would then be set for mediation, and you would have to wait until you get a court order if you are not able to reach an agreement at mediation.

Under the new changes to child custody law, relocation statutes also reference that 50-50 timesharing is in the best interest of the child. However, we do not have a lot of information from the courts on what that looks like with a relocation, so each judge is allowed to make their own decision. As a result, the outcome depends on the facts and circumstances of the case and what judge you get.

How Do I Petition To Change A Custody Or Time Sharing Order In Florida?

If you are unhappy with the current custody arrangement or visitation schedule, or if you feel it does not reflect new circumstances or current behavior, you can file a supplemental petition for modification.

In order to succeed on a supplemental petition for modification, you have to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. That is sometimes a difficult burden. You cannot merely argue that you and your co-parent are not getting along or that you need to change it so that they have less time.

Usually, when someone wants to change their custody or visitation arrangement, there are things that the other person also wants to change. Often, people end up litigating elements that they should have known in their original petition or the original final judgment to have taken care of. Fortunately, this is exactly the sort of thing that an experienced family law attorney is here to help you manage. For more information on Child Custody And Visitation In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step.

Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney - Mireya Lacayo, Esq.

Schedule Your Consultation Now  (813) 519-5919

Accessibility Accessibility
× Accessibility Menu CTRL+U