If you are in the process of filing for a divorce and have minor children, you will need to develop a custody arrangement with your ex-spouse. A custody agreement, or parenting plan, is a document that specifies how children split time between their parents after a divorce is finalized. Custody arrangements guarantee a parent’s right to the minimum time with their children. Custody arrangements are legal documents requiring official action to enforce or amend. Here is an overview of Florida’s most common types of custody arrangements.
In Florida, parents are given automatic legal custody of their children. Legal custody is a non-physical form of custody that gives both parents the right to make decisions about their child’s upbringing, regardless of how much physical time is spent with each parent. Legal custody allows parents to state educational, health, and religious preferences.
Parents can share joint legal custody but limit physical custody. This means each parent gets a say in the child’s wellbeing, no matter how often the child sees each parent.
Parents can have legal and physical custody at the same time. For instance, parents may decide on sole custody with both parents sharing legal custody.
With a sole custody arrangement, children spend most of their time with a single parent, and the other parent is given visitation rights. The responsibility for the child’s day-to-day care falls on one parent.
Sole custody arrangements may be beneficial if parents live far away from each other, and regular visitation is not feasible. Sole custody also gives children a sense of stability, as they travel between homes less regularly and stay at one house for longer.
After divorce proceedings are finalized, one parent moves to another state while the other has sole custody of the child in Florida. The child visits the out-of-state parent on holiday breaks and during the summer. The child spends the rest of the time with the parent in Florida.
Joint custody arrangements are the most common type of custody agreement. With joint custody, both parents split time with the child. Children travel between each parents’ homes on a regular, scheduled basis. Time for holidays and special occasions is also divided between each parent.
Family courts prefer this custody arrangement if the parents live nearby (usually less than 50 miles from each other). Another benefit is that the child gets to spend time with both parents, creating a deeper bond and having the influence of both parents as an active part of their lives.
Each parent resides in a personal residence within the child’s school district. The child splits their time between both parents following a pre-determined time-sharing schedule, such as alternating weeks, every other weekend, or alternating days like 3-4-4-3 or 2-2-5-5.
Many factors determine the best custody arrangement for you, your ex-spouse, and your children. Each parent’s proximity to the other will greatly influence how the children spend their time. A sole custody arrangement may be advisable if one parent lives out of state or often travels for work. On the other hand, joint custody is preferred if both parents live in the same town and can split time with each child weekly. During divorce proceedings involving minor children, parents must create a parenting plan that discusses in detail the time-sharing schedule, keeping in mind things like holidays, family celebrations, and school breaks.
Remsen Law helps Lake County residents with various family law issues, from prenuptial agreements to child custody. Contact our office at 352-243-1247 for a low cost initial consultation to discuss your case and talk about your options.