There is nothing more important to a parent than protecting the interest of his or her child and preserving his or her relationship with their child. Before confronting a custody battle, you need to be prepared with a plan and understand your rights as a parent. A Coral Gables child custody lawyer could help with this. Speak with a compassionate family attorney to learn more.

Forms Of Custody

Child Custody may be awarded to one parent or to both parents. When one parent receives sole custody of a child during a custody battle, that parent gets both legal and physical custody of the child. When a parent has legal custody of a child, that parent can make all educational, religious, medical, and disciplinary decisions regarding the child. Physical custody of a child will determine where the child will live.

Joint custody in Florida is known as shared parental responsibility. In this scenario, both parents must approve all decisions regarding the child. One parent will be named the primary joint custodian and the other parent may be granted visitation. The child’s primary residence will be with the parent named as the primary joint custodian.

The default in Florida is shared parental responsibility because it is ideal for both parents to be involved in raising the child. However, when parents are unable to come to an agreement on a major decision, a judge will step in and make those decisions for the child.

Creating A Parenting Plan

Florida law provides parents with the opportunity to create a parenting plan to address parental responsibility and time-sharing. The parenting plan should clearly state whether one parent will have sole custody of the child or whether the parents will have shared parental responsibility.

Parents may also divide responsibilities amongst each other and include this in the parenting plan. For example, one parent can be given the responsibility to make decisions regarding the child’s education and the other can be given the responsibility to make decisions about medical care.

The parenting plan will need to be approved by the court. Usually, the court prefers a parenting plan where the parents have agreed to shared parental responsibility unless it is clearly not in the best interest of the child. In cases where parents are unable to come up with a parenting plan, one will be created by the court.

Child Custody Determination

When deciding on parental responsibility, Florida law prioritizes what will be in the child’s best interest. When determining what will be in the child’s best interest, the court considers factors such as each parents ability to satisfy the developmental needs of the child, the educational requirements for the child, and the ability to provide the child with basic needs and a safe home. The court also considers the moral character of each parent, whether a parent has a substance abuse issue or mental health issues, and whether a parent has been involved in domestic violence or abuse towards the child.