With more than 30 years of family law representation, Swanson Law Center, P.A. has a comprehensive understanding of Florida family law to help you navigate through the state’s legal system. Provided by our Gainesville divorce lawyers, the following are answers to frequently asked questions about child custody in Florida.
Who will get custody of the kids?
In Florida, there is no such term as “custody,” nor is there a custodial or non-custodial parent designation. Both parents have “time-sharing” with their children. The court will order a time-sharing schedule based on the best interests of the children, along with other factors.
If both parents share custody, does one of them have to pay child support?
If both parents have an equal time-sharing schedule, child support is still calculated using the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, which is based on the parties’ income, percentage time-sharing, health insurance, and costs of medical expenses and care. As the payor’s percentage of time-sharing increases, the less he or she will pay in child support in general.
When is child custody decided?
The time-sharing schedule can be determined on a temporary basis and at the final hearing.
Can a parent refuse visitation to the other parent if child support is not paid?
No. Time-sharing and child support are treated as separate cases by the Florida courts, unless it relates to calculating child support.
What is a parenting plan? Do I need one?
Whether it is a document or information included in a divorce agreement, a parenting plan outlines how the parents will take care of their children following the dissolution of marriage. Such provisions include – but are not limited to – the time-sharing schedule, holiday time-sharing schedule, academics, child care, provisions for extra-curricular activities, etc.
What if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?
If the parents cannot agree on a time-sharing schedule, then the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the children.
Do Courts favor the mother more than the father?
Florida courts have gotten rid of the tender years doctrine – since mothers often care for children in their “tender years” – and the statutes do not favor one parent over the other due to gender preferences.
How can I increase my chances of obtaining a favorable custody agreement?
Be involved in all aspect of your children’s lives, such as getting to know their teachers, coaches, and healthcare providers. Maintain provisions for children in your home, such as proper routines and sleep schedules, child-proofing, as well as age-appropriate furnishings, toys, and games. Furthermore, promote a positive relationship with the other parent and be flexible with time-sharing, when appropriate.
When can I modify custody?
Parents are allowed to seek a modification petition at any time. However, they must demonstrate to the court that there has been an unexpected, significant change in circumstances from the date the parenting plan was established and the requested modification is in the best interests of the children.
Does my child have to appear in court?
In most cases, children never appear or testify in court. A parent must seek special permission from the court to allow a child to testify. However, the court hardly grants permission.
If you are interested in filing for divorce, schedule a consultation with our Gainesville divorce lawyer at Swanson Law Center, P.A. today.