The most important issue in many divorces is child custody. It is important to have a skilled Broward County child custody attorney to guide you through the child custody process.
Child custody is a central issue in any divorce. Protecting the best interests of the children, and parental relationships with children, is a key concern of both parents. The primary focus of the law is also on the best interests of the children. Based on this concern, the law prefers for parents to agree on child custody and visitation issues. Only where agreement cannot be reached will the court step in.
In recent years, Florida child custody law has changed. The state no longer awards primary custodial rights to one parent, with visitation rights to the other parent, and attempts to no longer favor the mother as the custodial parent. Child custody agreements are now called parenting plans, which are meant to reflect a more flexible and progressive approach to parenting where the parents are no longer together. Parenting plans are contractual agreements between the parents that govern the terms of the relationship between the parents when it comes to decisions that affect the children.
The parenting plan must address a number of aspects of the relationship between the two parents and the children. Time-sharing, including weekly schedules, and holiday and vacation schedules, must be addressed. Communication is also addressed: how and when parents can communicate with the child, and how parents communicate with each other. Decision-making regarding major issues with the child’s upbringing, such as schooling, healthcare, and religious issues, must also be addressed. The location of each parent, capacity for each parent to provide a routine and structured life for the child, moral character of the parent, and many other factors should be considered, all in light of what is best for the child.
Courts prefer joint parental responsibility in most circumstances. Sole responsibility is awarded only where one parent is unfit as a parent. In no-fault divorce proceedings, the conduct of either spouse is irrelevant to the granting of the divorce, but the conduct and character of each spouse is relevant when child custody is disputed.
While parenting plans are binding agreements, they can be modified. Life is not static, and where substantial changed circumstances exist, the parents can agree to modify the parenting plans between themselves, or one party can petition the court to modify the parenting plan. The changes sufficient for modification must be involuntary, and any modification must be in the best interests of the child.
If you face difficult decisions and need advice regarding child custody, contact experienced Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyer Serena Carroll today. Limiting the impact of divorce on a child, and securing a healthy future and solid relationship with your child is an important focus of any divorce proceeding. Ms. Carroll has counseled many clients through the divorce process, and can help devise a parental plan that is detailed, fair, and has foresight for the future. Contact the Law Office of Serena Carroll for a confidential consultation at (954) 525-2050.