Child Custody

Best Interest of the Child

Child Custody battles are incredibly emotional and challenging. The best way to address custody, also known as time-sharing, and other matters concerning your children is to work through the issues in mediation, rather than an exhausting court battle.

The number one consideration is the “best interests” of the child. This is the legal standard the court will apply and should be the guiding force in addressing custody, also known time-sharing. Courts also believe that it is in the child’s best interest to have continual and frequent contact with both parents, even when one parent is the primary residential parent. It’s important to keep in mind that this is the starting point for the court.

Parenting Plans

These outline the details of each parent’s responsibilities, including time-sharing schedules, decision-making for the children, where children will spend vacations or school breaks, how the children will communicate with the non-residential parent – basically all daily tasks regarding the upbringing and well-being of the child.

 

If you already have a Parenting Plan in place and it’s not working or it’s been a while since it was put in place and your child’s needs have changed, we can help you work through the challenges of a new arrangement.

Unmarried Parties

If the parents were never married and there has been no legal determination of paternity (being named on the birth certificate may not be enough on its own), then time-sharing and parental responsibility must be legally established through a Paternity action.

Relocation

One of the big fears is that a parent will move out of state with the child and the non-residential parent will be left without regular contact or opportunities to participate in the child’s upbringing.

 

At the same time, there may be a great job opportunity somewhere else for the primary residential parent.  The relocation law applies when that parent wants to move more than 50 miles away.  That means you must get court approval before moving.  It will ordinarily be approved if the move is based on the belief that it is best for that parent and the child, not based on a vindictive desire to interfere with the other parent’s visitation.

 

Take the steps in advance of the move to reach an agreement.  RDS can help you get to an agreement and then prepare the necessary paperwork.

 

A new Parenting Plan will be required and the parties must consider how to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent.  Consideration must also be given to new transportation needs appropriate to the age of the child, the cost of transportation, and whether child support needs to be modified under this new arrangement.  

  • Who has been the primary caregiver

  • Behavior detrimental to the child

  • The physical and mental stability of the parents

  • The parent who is more likely to be cooperative in providing visitation to the other parent

  • Concerns involving domestic issues such as abuse or neglect

  • The parent who has a better home and lifestyle to support the child

  • The home, school and community record of the child

  • Reasonable preferences of the child

  • The desirability of a constant, stable environment

If custody is disputed, then time-sharing and decision-making responsibilities will be determined based on all factors affecting the welfare of the child, including the following:

(727) 295-5105

222 2nd St. N.

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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