Jacksonville Child Custody Attorney
Family Law Help in Florida
When parents of a minor child divorce, custody of that child will be at issue. Florida courts generally defer to shared parental responsibility, where both parents work together to make major decisions regarding the child’s life and wellbeing. Examples of these decisions include education, medical care, religious exposure, and major discipline. It is extremely difficult to obtain sole parental responsibility, as you must prove that sharing parental responsibility will be detrimental to the child. Our Jacksonville divorce lawyers are here to help.
The child’s parents must create a parenting plan that includes a schedule for time-sharing for each parent. If the parents cannot agree on a time-sharing arrangement, the court will impose one. Courts will always consider the best interest of the child when creating and ordering a time-sharing schedule and will look to certain factors, as outlined in Fla. Stat. 61.13.
These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a close, continuing relationship with the other parent
- Division of parental responsibility for each parent
- Demonstrated capacity and willingness of each parent to act in the child’s best interest
- Moral, mental, and physical fitness of each parent
- Ability of the parents to provide a stable environment for the child that is free of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and controlled substances
- The home, school, and community record of the child, as well as the geographic viability of the parenting plan.
Before a hearing is scheduled, both parents are required to fulfill certain obligations:
- The parties must attend a parenting course. In Duval County, the parents must attend the Children First in Divorce class, which is offered by the Hope Haven Children’s Clinic. Arrangements may be made for parents to take the class in or near their county of residency if that county is different from the county in which the court case was filed.
- The case will be referred to mediation, where the parties will work with an independent mediator to help them come to a resolution with their time-sharing schedule and parenting plan. If the parties settle their issues, they will sign an agreement that will be filed with the court. If an agreement is not reached, an evidentiary hearing will be scheduled to address the unresolved matters.
If an evidentiary hearing is scheduled, the court will decide on the most appropriate parenting plan and time-sharing arrangement that will satisfy the best interest of the child. Once a parenting plan and time-sharing agreement have been ordered by the court, the plan cannot be changed unless there is a permanent, substantial change in circumstances.
You do not have to go through this process on your own. An experienced Jacksonville child custody attorney can assist you with the process. If you have child custody issues and would like legal guidance, please call The Law Offices of Kate Mesic at (904) 615-8950 to schedule a legal consultation.