Contact our office for a confidential case analysis.
Hablamos Espanol
407-849-7072

Child Custody & the Best Interests of the Child

The legal term for child custody is now parental responsibility, but though the legal term has evolved, the determining factors of child custody have remained mostly consistent. The primary factor, of course, is what's in the child's best interests. Florida law outlines what specifically the courts look at when considering what is in the best interests of the child. Those specific considerations and other factors are discussed here.

At Veliz Katz Law, our dedicated Orlando attorneys want our clients to be informed. Informed clients better understand what to expect and how to make the best decisions for everyone involved. Child custody cases, as you well know, are some of the most contentious aspects of any divorce or separation. We want to make the process as smooth possible – because that too is in the best interests of the child.

After reading the below child custody overview, if you still have questions or are considering a divorce and have children, contact our office today to schedule an initial free consultation. 

What is Parental Responsibility in Florida?

Parental responsibility refers to the type of child custody a parent has of his or her child. There are two basic types of parental responsibility in Florida, and these are:

  1. Sole Parental Responsibility (sole custody) is awarded to a parent or guardian when the other parent is unfit to raise the child. The parent awarded sole custody is the one who makes all the decisions involving the child, whether it's about school, religion, or another matter. If the other parent is eventually deemed fit, then parental responsibilities can be modified upon a request with and approval by the court.
  2. Shared Parental Responsibility (joint custody) is custody awarded to both parents (divorced or never married) because both parents demonstrate the required fitness to raise their child and, as such, it is typically in the child's best interest. When there is shared parental responsibility, one parent may still be the primary custodian of the child. And even if there isn't a parent possessing primary custody, one parent may be designated with specific responsibilities. For example, it may be up to one parent to provide for healthcare or education while other responsibilities are shared.

Co-parenting plans are created to address and outline the specifics of custody matters, including timesharing schedules. These parental plans can be mutually created by the parents or each parent can submit a parental plan to the court and the court can decide how to mesh them together, upon hearing arguments on both sides.

If you don't want the court making the decision, then it is important to seek an attorney who is skilled in negotiations and has mediation experience. At Veliz Katz Law, we understand the importance of working together because – though even if you are no longer a couple, married or otherwise – it's in the best interests of the child to come to a mutual agreement.

Factors a Court Considers in Florida Custody Cases

To determine parental responsibilities, there are statutory factors a court must consider. As outlined under Fla. Stat. 61.13, factors determining the best interests of the child include:

(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.

(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.

(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.

(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.

(f) The moral fitness of the parents.

(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.

(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.

(i)The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.

(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child's friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.

(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.

(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.

(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.

(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.

(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.

(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities.

(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.

(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's developmental needs.

(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

Before going to court, it would be in your best interest to review these factors with your attorney. At Veliz Katz Law will go over them with you and identify how each may or may not apply in your unique situation. With more than 60 years of combined legal experience, we know how these factors are interpreted and applied, and we use this knowledge to benefit you.

Enforcement of Orlando Child Custody Orders

There are times when child custody cases are so contentious that one party fails to adhere to the court order of parental responsibility or other court orders. This may mean you will have to seek an enforcement order.

Situations that create the need for an enforcement order include:

  • One parent refuses to allow visitation or to comply with the time-sharing/visitation agreement;
  • One parent consistently fails to stick to the time-sharing or visitation schedule; or
  • One parent takes the child out of state either for vacation or to relocate without first consulting the other parent or obtaining approval by the court.

In any of these or other similar situations, Veliz Katz Law will file a motion for custody enforcement or a motion for contempt of court, whichever is appropriate in the given circumstances. If necessary, we will also pursue modifications to child custody. 

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Orlando, FL Today

At Veliz Katz Law, we are firmly committed to our clients and dedicated to guiding you through the process of child custody. We will protect your child's rights and your rights while pursuing what is in the best interests of your child. Contact us online or at 407-849-7072 to schedule a consultation.

Awards

Menu