If you’re getting divorced in Florida and have minor children at home, you must create a parenting plan and submit it to the family court for the divorce to be finalized. The parenting plan will detail how you and your ex-spouse plan to split time with your children after the divorce is granted. Florida law recognizes the importance of collaborative co-parenting. It actively encourages parents to work together and foster a time-sharing schedule that prioritizes the well-being and stability of their children. Here are the most common types of custody agreements:
Joint custody (also called shared custody) is the most common type of custody agreement in Florida. In a shared custody arrangement, both parents split time with their children. Children move between each parent’s home on a regular, scheduled basis following a time-sharing schedule. Parents have the flexibility to create a time-sharing schedule that fits their needs and has the child’s best interest in mind. However, Florida courts favor agreements where parents split time with children evenly. Some common joint custody arrangements include alternating weeks, days, or weekends. Joint custody arrangements should also provide a schedule for school breaks and holidays.
Long-distance custody arrangements are suitable for parents who live far away from each other and cannot split time evenly. Florida Statute 61.13001 defines a long-distance custody arrangement when one parent’s primary residence is more than 50 miles from the other parent’s address. To legally relocate with minor children after a divorce, both parents must agree and sign a document that approves the relocation. If one parent disagrees, a formal petition for relocation may be necessary.
Legal custody is a non-physical form of custody that grants both parents equal rights to make major decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, regardless of how much physical time the child spends with each parent. Legal custody allows parents to state their preferences concerning the child’s education, health, and religion. Parents are automatically granted legal custody of their children. However, if the child’s safety is threatened, legal custody can be taken away from one parent. It’s possible to have joint legal custody but limited physical custody.
The term “sole custody” is no longer recognized by Florida courts. However, many parents refer to it as having complete physical custody of their children with no time sharing with the other parent. It is rare for one parent to be awarded full physical custody in Florida, as the court encourages both parents to be active parts of their children’s lives. During divorce hearings, the parent seeking sole physical custody must provide sufficient evidence to prove that sole custody is in the best interest of their children. Circumstances that may lead to the granting of sole physical custody include unfit parenting and domestic abuse.
Recent Updates to Custody Law
A new law regarding time-sharing went into effect on July 1, 2023. This law makes the presumption that equal time-sharing is in the child’s best interest unless evidence proves otherwise. Previously, Florida courts did not favor one form of time-sharing agreement over the other. However, this law now gives preference to joint custody arrangements where parents split time 50/50 with their children. The law also eliminates the need for a custody modification to be unanticipated as well as a substantial and material change. This means parents can modify child custody agreements even if the circumstances leading to the change were previously known.
Custody Agreement and Parenting Plan Creation with Alison M. Lopes
Having a well-defined parenting plan is crucial to avoid any disputes or clashes regarding child custody after the divorce is finalized. Knowledgeable family law attorney Alison M. Lopes can help you develop, negotiate, and submit a parenting plan that fulfills all the requirements and benefits you and your children. Schedule a low-cost consultation with our office at 407-442-2724 today.