Florida Child Custody Laws
The Florida legislators made dramatic changes with the enactment of a new custody statute on October 1, 2008. The new Florida custody statute removed the words "custody" and "visitation" from Florida law and replaced with the words "access and contact." The new Florida custody laws also created shared parental responsibility, requiring in most cases that all major decisions be made jointly by the parents of minor children.
In addition to parental responsibility for decision making, the Florida family court also establishes a parenting plan that sets forth each parent's schedule with the minor children. Within the parenting plan, there is a time-sharing schedule that has replaced "visitation" and the later terminology of "access and contact." Generally, there is not a primary residence designation, but instead, the parenting plan sets forth parental responsibility (decision making rights), time-sharing arrangements and child support under the Florida child support guidelines.
There are no presumptions in the Florida child custody statute about what amount of time either parent should spend with the children. Instead, the parenting plan allows for the creation of a schedule that works for the best interests of the minor children. A parenting plan created by the parents through cooperation or mediation generally results in a plan that is much more thorough in considering the individual needs of the particular minor children.
Contested Florida Child Custody Cases
If the parents in a Florida child custody case are unable to reach an agreement regarding child custody, the family court judge deciding the case may appoint a Guardian ad Litem for the child or may order a psychological evaluation of the parents and/or children. A custody evaluation by a guardian ad litem is a process in which an attorney, mental health, or other professional interviews the parents and minor children and speaks with other individuals with significant sources of information (i.e., teachers, coaches, treating physicians) in order to make a recommendation to the court. Courts tend to give considerable weight to the recommendations of the Guardian ad Litem.
Contact Our Dade County Custody Attorneys
Our South Florida custody lawyers have assisted many mothers and fathers in obtaining child custody orders that were in the best interests of their minor children. Our Miami-Dade County custody law firm is experienced in representing parents in settlement negotiations, as well as in contested custody trials.
Contact our Miami child custody attorneys at 305-329-2560 e-mail us to schedule an appointment to learn about your rights as well as your children's rights in your Dade County, Broward County or Monroe County child custody case.
Our Miami child custody lawyers accept family law cases in Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Monroe County. Our Miami law office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and weekends and evenings by appointment.
Consultations are available in person at our downtown Miami law office and at several meeting locations throughout Dade and Broward Counties including Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Galiano Street in Coral Gables, West Country Club Drive in Aventura, Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood and in the Homestead area. Appointments are also available by telephone and via Skype internet video chat.