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Florida Child Custody FAQs Answered by Attorneys

Divorce can be an emotionally challenging and draining moment in anyone’s life. Add to this the difficulty of determining child custody and it can be overwhelming. The compassionate and understanding child custody team at Farah & Farah appreciate the pain that is involved in such cases and pride ourselves in providing caring representation to families going through divorce. If you are presently entering into a divorce and are concerned about custody rights in the state of Florida, contact our offices at your earliest convenience. We can help you focus on the best interests of your children, while navigating the complex and sometimes confusing, court systems. For more information and a free case consultation, give us a call at (904) 263-4610.

Child custody pertains to the care, control and maintenance of an offpsring who is under 18. In Florida, child custody laws help determine which parents gets legal and physical custody of their children in the event of a divorce or separation. A parent with legal custody of the child can make decisions with regard to where the child will go to school. A parent with legal custody can also make religious, medical and disciplinary decisions with regard to his or her child. Florida courts, based on the state’s laws will decide who gets physical custody of the children.

The Jacksonville family law attorneys at Farah & Farah understand the significance of who gets legal and physical custody of children during a divorce. Child custody is usually one of the most contentious issues in a divorce proceeding, which can cause significant stress for adults as well as children involved. If you are a parent who is going through divorce proceedings and are concerned about who will get custody of your children, please contact us to obtain more information about your rights.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on the issue of child custody in Florida:

– Will I get custody of our child?

– How does custody affect child support?

– Can I refuse to allow visitation?

– What factors will the court consider while determining custody?

– Can my child decide whether or not to live with me?

– Do I need a parenting plan?

– Can the custody agreement be modified?

– What can I do to increase my time with my child?

– How is primary and secondary custody determined in Florida?

– What happens if a time sharing plan cannot be agreed upon?

– How is child support estimated within the time sharing model?

– Do grandparents have "time-sharing" rights?

Q: Will I get custody of our child?

A: Under Florida law, there is no such thing as joint custody or sole custody. During a divorce or separation, the court will order a “time-sharing” schedule that is in the best interest of the child. So, the question is not who will have custody but who will get to spend the most time with his or her child? If you are able to show that it is in the best interest of your child to be in your home, you may receive equal time-sharing or even majority time-sharing.

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Q: How does custody affect child support?

A: The amount of money owed through child support is calculated by a number of factors including percentage of time-sharing. In general, as the percentage of time-sharing increases, the amount owed in child support decreases. Other factors that will determine the amount a parent will pay in child support include income, health insurance, uncovered medical expenses and childcare costs.

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Q: Can I refuse to allow visitation?

A: Refusing to share your child as scheduled by the court is not allowed. Even if your former spouse is late on child support payments, he or she still has visitation rights. In fact, time-sharing and child support are treated separately in court. You can actually hurt the amount of time you are allowed to spend with your child if you do not follow the time-sharing schedule, regardless of the reason you may have for doing so.

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Q: What factors will the court consider while determining custody?

A: The court will carefully review the relationship that each parent has with the child. In general, the court will consider the needs of the child over the needs of the parent. They will consider the moral fitness of the parents as well as the home, school and community record of the child.

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Q: Can my child decide whether or not to live with me?

A: Your child will have to abide by the decision of the court, but his or her desires will be taken into consideration. Under Florida Statute 61.13, the court will consider “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.”

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Q: Do I need a parenting plan?

A: The court will establish a parenting plan that will clearly spell out the time-sharing schedule including who will have the child on holidays and who has the final say on important issues such as education and child care.

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Q: Can the custody agreement be modified?

A: The time-sharing agreement is not final. Both parents have the right to modify the parenting plan if circumstances have changed since the schedule was made. The petitioning parent will have to show that the requested modification is in the best interest of the child in order to receive the court’s approval.

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Q: What can I do to increase my time with my child?

A: You must be involved in every aspect of your child’s life. Make sure you have a breadth of understanding regarding the education and medical care your child needs and the extracurricular activities your child participates in. You should also ensure that your residence is safe for children, that you have proper sleep accommodations and that everything in your home is childproofed and age-appropriate.

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Q: How is primary and secondary custody determined in Florida?

A: The state of Florida enacted sweeping reforms to child custody in 2010 that took into account a wide range of factors when it comes to a child’s continued well being. Florida Statutes §61.13 effectively abolished the notion of joint, secondary and primary custody. It was felt that blanketing a child’s welfare into one or another parent’s household failed to take into account the myriad of circumstances that arise in a young person’s life and health. Therefore, parents now enter into a "time-sharing" agreement – where a child’s specific needs are put into play and parceled out between the guardians. Some of the factors that Florida took into consideration are:

  • Does each parent have the ability to form a close relationship with the child?
  • Can both parents agree to work with one another to find middle ground?
  • Where does each parent live in relationship to the child’s present school?
  • What is the physical and mental health of each parent?
  • What is the child’s preference when it comes to housing and guardianship?
  • Has there been any previous abuse, domestic or otherwise in the family?
  • Will each parent, individually, be able to provide for the child’s needs now and in the future?
  • Any other factors the judge may consider relevant to the case.

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Q: What happens if a time sharing plan cannot be agreed upon?

A: If you and your spouse cannot come to amicable agreement in regards to time-sharing with your child, the courts will determine a schedule and plan that serves the best interests of the child.

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Q: How is child support estimated within the time sharing model?

A: Generally speaking, the parent who spends the most time raising, housing and caring for the child on a day-to-day basis will be supplying the least amount of child support. However, as is the case with custody, Florida courts take in a wide variety of factors when estimating child support amounts including, but not limited to:

  • Both guardians’ current income
  • Health expenses for the child
  • Child care costs
  • Amount of "time-sharing" of each parent

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Q: Do grandparents have "time-sharing" rights?

A: Under special circumstances, especially in relation to parents who are deployed in the military for more than 90 days, a new Florida law allows grandparents to be representatives in the family time-sharing plan.

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Child custody and child support issues can be complex. If you are concerned about your child’s safety and do not wish to share time with an ex-spouse or partner, or if you would like the custody agreement modified, it is critical that you contact an experienced Florida family law attorney who has successfully handled similar cases. The skilled lawyers at Farah & Farah know and understand all aspects of child custody law in Florida. We will work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Please contact us at (904) 263-4610 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Farah & Farah Main Office
10 West Adams St.,
Jacksonville Florida 32202
Toll Free: 855-797-9899
Local: 904-263-4610
Email: contact@farahandfarah.com

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The attorneys of Farah & Farah in Jacksonville, Florida have experience with personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, workers’ compensation, social security, injury and negligence lawsuits, family law and criminal defense. Eddie Farah and our team of Jacksonville attorneys are proud to represent working people and families throughout the country.

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