Child Custody Lawyers in Jacksonville
Serving Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach and clients throughout Florida
Parties who seek to dissolve their marriage with children not only have to deal with the economic strain of separation as a married couple, but also have to deal with the emotional strain of doing what is in the best interests of their children as they move on with their separate lives.
Changes to the Language of the Law
A new Florida parenting plan statute took effect on October 1, 2008 which changed the way our Courts make decisions about parental roles and responsibilities after a divorce.
The Florida parenting plan statute did away with some terms traditionally used to define the rights of parents after a divorce. For example, the law eliminates the words:
- Custodial parent
- Non-custodial parent
- Primary residential parent
- Secondary residential parent
Additionally, some terms are newly defined:
- Parenting plan—a document outlining parental responsibilities for decisions concerning their child; it must include a time-sharing schedule
- Time-sharing schedule—details the time that a child will spend with each parent
- Parenting plan recommendation—a non-binding recommendation made by a licensed mental health professional or any other individual designated by a Court concerning the parenting plan
Drafting a Parenting Plan
The idea of a parenting plan is not new. However, under this new Florida statute, a parenting plan is now required and it must include specific information. If parents can’t come up with a parenting plan, then a Judge will prepare one. The parenting plan must be approved by a Court.
The parenting plan must indicate who makes decisions concerning the child´s:
- Health care
- Physical well-being
- Social well-being
- Emotional well-being
Parents cannot withhold visitation for non-payment of child support nor can they outright refuse visitation to the other parent.
Best Interests of the Child
The new Florida parenting plan statute still uses the best interests of the child as a guiding principle. However, the new law specifically identifies a number of factors that should be considered when determining how the child’s time with each parent is divided. For example, a court will weigh whether a parent:
- Facilitates and encourages a close and continuing parent-child relationship
- Honors the timesharing schedule
- Is reasonable when changes are required
- Places the child’s needs above his or her own needs or desires
Depending on the age of the child, his or her preference will also be considered.
The State of Florida dictates the amount of money a parent will be required to pay for child support according to the Child Support Guidelines.
However, there are other factors that will be considered when determining child support payments. Parents must consider health insurance and daycare expenses as part of the overall child support calculation. The parties must also contemplate out-of-pocket expenses that are not otherwise covered by insurance and expenses related to extracurricular activities.
Custody and parenting time are important considerations in a divorce. What most parents may not realize is that divorce is just as stressful on the children (if not harder) as it is on the adults. Not only do they pick up on the tension, but they feel also feel anger, hurt, and may even be caught in the middle of their parent’s conflict.
Hire Our Team of Child Custody Lawyers at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A. Today
It is always recommended that parents come to an agreement wherever possible, but sometimes an agreement isn’t possible. During these types of cases, one of our Child Custody Lawyers in Jacksonville FL at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A. will represent you. We will present your case for child custody, propose parenting plans, and gather evidence to prove your case.
If you are going through a custody discussion, then it’s important to have an advocate by your side that can help represent the best interests of your child and make sure you get a fair agreement.
At Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A. we understand how important your children are and we want to make the transition as easy as possible. Talk to us today about drafting a custody arrangement.