Child Custody and Visitation
Orlando Child Custody & Visitation Attorneys
In a divorce, child custody and visitation issues are the most difficult for parents and children to cope with, especially if one parent is seeking sole legal custody of the children. Florida courts make child custody decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child, if the parents cannot reach an agreement. The court will order that parental responsibility be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. In that case, the court may order sole parental responsibility, as will best protect the child.
The court may give one parent ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of a child's welfare, such as primary residence, education, or medical and dental care. In deciding which parent should have primary residence, the court examines a variety of statutory factors affecting the welfare and interest of the child such as:
- The parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent.
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The stability as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child as to custody, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuous parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Evidence that any party has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding a domestic violence proceeding.
- Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
- Any other fact not specifically expressed in these laws that the court considers to be relevant.
The custodial parent receives child support based on the income of the parents, and the non-custodial parent must make payments. Even though it is in the best interest of the child to live with one parent, the other parent may seek custody, in order to avoid or minimize child support payments.