In a Florida Divorce, Don’t Call it Child “Custody”

The biggest issue with our clients in divorce and paternity cases is custody of their children.  Clients are usually surprised to learn that terms such as “custody” and “visitation” no longer exist in Florida, and have been replaced with other terms such as “parental responsibility” and “time-sharing.”  The changes, which took place in 2008, are not merely a shift in terminology.  The goal is to promote the role of both parents in the child’s life and that each child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Florida law now require that a Parenting Plan be prepared in almost all family cases involving minors.

Some Terms to Know

Shared Parental Responsibility is a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities and work together on major decisions affecting the welfare of the child.  Some examples of major decisions affecting the child include health care, education, and religion.  Sole Parental Responsibility means a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes decisions regarding the child.  Do not assume that the court will grant you sole parental responsibility just because you request it.  You must show that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.  The best interest of the child is always the primary consideration.

A Parenting Plan is a document that governs the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child.  A Parenting Plan can be agreed to by the parties and approved by the court.  If the parents can’t agree, then the court will establish a plan.  Among other things, the Parenting Plan contains a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child.  There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child when creating or modifying the Parenting Plan.  Parenting Plans can be very detailed depending on the circumstances.  It is best to consult an attorney to assist you in preparing a Parenting Plan that will suit your child’s best interest now and in the future.

Our firm is experienced in handling divorces with minor children and paternity actions in and around Tampa, Florida.  We offer affordable services to our clients in their time of need.  Contact our office to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney about your case.  The initial consultation is always free.

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