Few issues in family law have as much emotional impact as the subject of child paternity, parental responsibility, and timesharing. Parental responsibility refers to a collection of responsibilities and rights that parents have regarding their children’s general welfare, authority, religion, education and health care. Spouses or parents may settle these issues and timesharing out of court through a private agreement or mediation, which is preferable over litigation.
In cases where parental responsibility and/or timesharing are contested, the court must make a determination to “promote the best interests and welfare of the child”. The judge will consider your past and present conduct, and whether the evidence supports your claim. You must demonstrate that your behavior and abilities will enhance your child’s overall welfare better than your spouse’s or the other parent. Other factors the court may take into consideration include: physical, mental, emotional, moral and religious factors, the child’s preference, each parent’s caretaking ability, each parent’s home environment, each parent’s availability to the child, each parent’s economic situation and potential, the child’s bonding with other siblings, and other factors that illustrate what is best for the child.
Florida statutes show no preference to either a mother or father in parental responsibility and timesharing matters. The court may award split timesharing to both parties, or give majority timesharing to one parent and minority timesharing to the other.
Custody decisions will affect your family life after divorce for a long time, so it is in yours and your child’s best interests to understand your legal rights and obligations. An experienced family law attorney can assist in developing and negotiating comprehensive settlement agreements, providing references to mediation expertise, and formalizing agreements reached as a result of mediation or litigation.
We will always give you the best advice we can based on your individual needs regarding your child’s best interests when negotiating parental responsibility, timesharing arrangements, and Parenting Plans with the other parent. We help you through challenging situations involving relocation, or even allegations of parental alienation, family violence, and abuse.