How is child custody/time-sharing determined in Florida?
Florida law identifies several specific factors for the Courts to consider when making a custody/time-sharing decision. When preparing your case use these factors to clearly prepare your case, organize your evidence and decide what witnesses you will need.
Division of parenting responsibilitiesThe Court is to consider the following criteria:
1) How or who has done the parenting tasks before the case started, while the case is pending as well as who is anticipated to perform those tasks after the case is over?
2) Which of these parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties i.e. grandparents or boyfriends/girlfriends?
3) Can the parent to provide a consistent routine for the child including time for homework, meals and bedtime?
4) Which parent knows the details of the child's life - who her friends, teachers, doctors and favorite things are?
5) Which parent has participated in the child's school and extra-curricular activities?
6) Which parent is most able to understand and meet the child's development stages and needs?
Think about what evidence (documents, photographs, receipts, e-mails, text messages) can help show the Judge that you are the one most involved with parenting your child. Also consider who other than you can help the Judge to see these facts, perhaps a teacher, coach, neighbor, friend and/or relative.
Ability to co-parent1) Which parent is capable of encouraging a close relationship between the child and the other parent?
2) Which parent has shown that ability during the litigation?
3) Which parent honors the time-sharing schedule?
4) Which parent is reasonable when changes are needed to the time-sharing schedule?
5) Which parent puts the child's needs above their own personal needs?
6) Which parent has shown an ability to keep the other parent up to date on issues related to the child?
7) Which parent has shown a willingness to adopt a united front on major child issues in other words to compromise?
8) Which parent has refrained from making rude comments about the other parent, the other parent's family and the custody case in general?
9) Which parent has refrained from sharing Court documents or electronic media about the case with the child?
In addition to again thinking about what documents and witnesses can help you prove your side of the case, consider refocusing your efforts to best match these criteria as Florida law specifies that these factors are a significant part of demonstrated preferred parenting.
Additional considerations1) How long and with whom has the child lived? Is this residence stable? Is there an advantage to the child of staying in this same residence?
2) How far apart do the parents live? Will it be easy or hard to rotate custody? How long will it take to transport the child to and from school from each house or between houses?
3) Are there any concerns about either parents' moral fitness, mental health, physical health, substance abuse?
4) How is the child doing in school, at home, in the community?
5) Does the child have a preference? Is she old enough and mature enough to have a reasoned preference?
6) Has there been any domestic violence or child abuse? Has anyone false reported the same?
By following the outline set forth in the Florida Statutes you will be able to point the Judge to the specific facts and issues the Judge needs to best evaluate your case. Staying focused, articulating your points and following the outline of what Florida law considers most relevant is the best way to prepare your case.