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Child Custody Attorney in Jacksonville

In Florida, courts have eliminated the use of the terms "custody" and "primary custody." Since 2008, "custody" is not granted to any party. Instead, the courts assign "parental responsibility" of the children, whether shared or sole, and establish parenting plans and time-sharing arrangements that serve the best interests of the children. The emphasis of the new laws moves away from who is awarded time with the child and toward the concept of co-parenting. Under Florida law, it is presumed that frequent and continuing contact with both parents is in the best interest of the child and that parental responsibility should be shared by both parents, unless this would be detrimental to the child.

Issues related to time sharing/visitation and child support under Florida law vary depending on the case. These issues arise in divorce cases, paternity cases (when the parties are not married), child custody modification cases, cases to enforce parental rights and time sharing, and child support modification cases. 


Parenting Plans

In every initial divorce and paternity proceeding that involves a minor child, a parenting plan is required. Parenting plans deal with a variety of parenting issues, including communication between parents and children, parental responsibility, and co-parenting. A main component of every parenting plan involves a time sharing schedule which addresses when each parent will spend time with the child or children. It describes in detail how each parent will participate in the upbringing of the parties’ child or children. Every timesharing plan must be in the best interest of the child or children in order to be approved by the Court.

Parenting plans explain:

  • How parents will be responsible for and share daily child-rearing tasks.
  • Who will make decisions regarding health care, school, religious upbringing and other areas.
  • How the parents will communicate with each other and with the child(ren).
  • The parenting plan also must include a detailed time-sharing schedule, including holidays, school breaks and birthdays, showing which dates and times each parent will have with the child(ren).

Florida law requires that all parents with children have a parenting plan in place, even if there is no dispute over custody arrangements. The court will usually approve a parenting plan that has been agreed to by both parents. If the parents cannot agree, the court will decide on a parenting plan for them. Once the court implements a parenting plan, it is binding and must be followed by both parents, whether they approve of the terms or not. It is always best for the parents, and the children, when they are able to reach agreement on a parenting plan on their own.

While the court’s goal may be to have parents work together to make decisions regarding time sharing, this can be a potentially contentious process in certain situations. Attorney Leanne Perez understands the conflicts that can arise, and can assist you in negotiating a detailed parenting plan, outlining both the circumstances under the which the other parent may have visits with child, as well as the time allocated for these visits, including making special arrangements for important dates, such as holidays and birthdays. In cases where you feel your child’s health or well being is in jeopardy, we can advise you on the necessary actions that are required to protect both you and them in these situations. This often includes uncovering and revealing information to the court about the other parent, which shows that they are unfit or ill prepared to provide for your child on a regular basis or in a manner that prevents your child from being exposed to potential physical or emotional harm. 

Fighting for your best interests does not always mean launching an attack in court. While we are fierce when it comes to protecting our clients, we also prioritize the well-being of any children involved. Whenever possible, we try to resolve disputes involving children in a way that is peaceful and sustainable.


How courts determine custody

Florida uses the terms time-sharing and parental responsibility when it comes to custody decisions. Courts can give parents joint parental responsibility or sole parental responsibility over the children, and courts often prefer plans that allow both parents to spend time with their children. If parents are unable to agree on timeshare plans, a judge will intervene and decide for them in the best interests of the child as a guiding principle.

It is difficult to know when to involve a lawyer for a child custody issue. The issue of child custody can come with legal complications. The decision of a judge often depends on what is best for the children involved. Unfortunately, lack of financial resources is sometimes a very common barrier for mothers / fathers needing legal help.

In general, some of the factors that judges took into consideration when deciding on child custody issues include:

  • Each parent's ability to meet the needs of the child.
  • The physical and mental health of each parent.
  • The stability of each home.
  • The geographical viability of the parenting plan.
  • Any history of mental health problems, criminal activities and/or addiction problems that either parent may have.
  • Each parent's inclination to promote contact with the other parent is any history of abuse associated with either parent.
  • Any history of domestic violence in the home.

In the great majority of cases the parental rights over the children minors are shared. This means that the major decisions regarding the upbringing of the child(ren) must be taken jointly by the parties. Neither party has the authority to make unilateral decisions regarding the major decisions of children, unless an emergency or other forced circumstances warrant unilateral action.

In order to effectively represent our clients and help them make the decisions that are best for them and their children, an attorney must be familiar with all aspects of these extremely complex areas of Florida family law. Attorney Leanne Perez has helped many families develop parenting plans that meet each parent’s needs and preserve the best interests of the child, including in complex situations involving supervised time-sharing, relocation, and blended families.



Free Consultation! Call Today 904-990-3066

Resolving custody disputes quickly and satisfactorily is always the goal of Attorney Leanne Perez. Prolonging custody disputes can be traumatic for children of any age, so it is important for parents to cooperate as much as possible. Attorney Leanne Perez in Jacksonville focuses on preserving relationships and maintaining civility during the case. She has experience in many creative ways to reach custody agreements, even among the most hostile parents. Let's talk about your case and your options. Contact her at (904) 990-3066 for a free initial consultation today.

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