The Law Office of Erin Morse - Family Law Attorneys In Orlando, FL

Even when both parties agree to the terms, a divorce can still mean a major upheaval in a couple’s life. That married relationship has come to an end and it is time for that couple to start rebuilding their lives. However, if there are children that are part of the family, then a co-parenting situation will be starting with the help of a family law attorney in Orlando. This is where the issue of determining custody comes into the equation. On many levels, it is easy to divide assets. Deciding which is the best living environment for a child can be the real difficult decision and not only for the parents but also for the courts.

Every custody case in a divorce presents a family court judge with different factors to consider. That judge will always make their consideration based on the best interests of the child. As a general rule, Florida law would like to see a child maintaining contact with both parents. That would mean that both parents will also share in all the decision-making responsibilities of raising that child. Just because one spouse has moved from the home and is paying alimony and child support doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be involved with issues pertaining to education, religious upbringing, discipline, and college.

Although the prevailing wisdom is that courts favor mothers in custody matters, the reality is that each judge comes into the divorce proceeding with an open mind. Again, it all goes back to what is in the best interests of the child. That is really the only question that matters both to the courts and to a family law attorney in Orlando. Here are some of the factors that might sway a judge in their decision for the best option for custody:

The Health and Safety Environment

Exposing a child to any kind of abuse will have a major impact on a court’s decision as to a custody ruling. That abuse doesn’t have to directly involve a child, but if there are in an environment where they see one parent abuse the other, then it will become a factor with the child custody decision.

Once a court order has been filed, there could be issues of ongoing neglect such as abandonment or physical abuse. A family law attorney in Orlando can trigger an instant revaluation of the child custody ruling leading to one parent forfeiting their rights. A parent who is struggling with any kind of substance abuse would also be creating an unhealthy living environment in the eyes of the court. If it has been demonstrated that the living environment is not safe, then a judge could vacate the original order and order supervised visits for the parent and child.

Emotional Needs

A judge wants to see that parents put their children first. This becomes the foundation for a child’s developmental needs. With regard to a child custody decision, the judge will consider how well the parent knows about their child’s life outside of the house such as with friends and teachers. Are they aware of the child’s current interests and whether they are involved in any extracurricular activities?

A family law attorney in Orlando will try to demonstrate how the child’s emotional needs are being met by providing a structured environment. Does the parent have consistent times for homework, meals, and bedtime? What are the boundaries surrounding discipline? If those routines have been firmly established in the household with one parent, then a judge will consider that as being a preferable living situation. That is not to say that those routines can’t be duplicated in a second household. However, the judge needs to see a clear willingness from both parents to maintain those standards.

The child custody arraignment itself could have an impact on a child’s emotional needs. This is especially true with younger children who might find themselves frequently shuttled between households in between visits.

Co-Parenting Skills

The Florida family court system and the family law attorney in Orlando want to foster positive relationships between divorced couples and their children. That starts with honoring the dictates of the court. That begins with following the alimony and child support requirements. However, a parent who is constantly late with picking up or dropping off their children for a visitation could put their custody status in jeopardy. The same can be said for being late with child support or alimony payments. Obviously, there were always be factors that can cause delays. This is when the issue of communication between the parents is important. As long as the parents are keeping each other informed, then the family can flourish with co-parenting.

Family court judges understand the strain that a divorce can put on a couple. However, they don’t want to see that stress spilling over onto the children. Judges don’t appreciate when one parent belittles the other in front of the child. Even worse, is using the visitation as a kind of emotional “weapon.” There should never be discussions with a child about whether a parent is delinquent with alimony or child support. That is a matter that should be handled by a family law attorney in Orlando.

Moral Fitness

Moral fitness can also be a deciding factor for a family court judge. They can consider a parent who has substance abuses issues or introduces the child to multiple causal relationship partners. General verbal abuse will also be frowned upon by the courts. If infidelity was part of the divorce, then a judge can weigh that against how it might have impacted the child. All of these issues will be presented to the court by the family law attorney in Orlando as part of the hearing.

The Custody Options

There are two levels of child custody: Legal and physical. Often, they are intertwined. Legal custody grants a parent the sole responsibility to make all the decisions regarding their child’s upbringing and general welfare. The physical custody pertains to where the child lives and which parent they are living with.

The ideal situation for the Florida court is to establish a joint child custody arrangement. Although an order of joint custody might be rendered, that doesn’t mean that the child will split evenly the time they spend with each parent. For instance, it might work better if the child stays in the mother’s home during the school week and goes with the father on the weekends. Holidays and vacation times will be divided accordingly.

Developing a Parenting Plan

Divorcing couples can work with their family law attorney in Orlando to help develop a parenting plan. They might be able to present this plan to the judge if it is not contested by the parents. This plan needs to spell out in specific terms just what each parent is responsible for with regard to their children. This is separate from any child support or alimony agreement.

The parenting plan will detail the time-sharing schedule, the ways the parents will communicate with each other and the child and what are the daily responsibilities when the child is in their care. There also needs to be details about who will be responsible for things like taking the child to the dentist or doctor for regular check-ups and who is going to handle the after-school activities. The more that can be agreed to before going to see the judge, the better off the end result will be.

Once the custody issues have been worked out between the courts and the family law attorney in Orlando, families can adjust to their new routines. It might be a bit “bumpy” at first, but soon things can get back to normal. It is important for the parents to watch out for their kids in this transitional time to make sure they aren’t isolating themselves. Yes, the family dynamics have changed, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t all a family.

Relocating With A Child After A Divorce

Florida Statute 61.13001 governs relocating with a child after divorce in Florida. Relocation is moving the child’s principal residence more than 50 miles away for 60 days or more. A vacation, temporary travel, or a necessary trip to a health care facility is not relocation. Before relocating, the parent must consider the child’s entire extended family, parents, stepparents, grandparents, and guardians. A parent who is relocating needs a new child custody order with a new time-sharing plan. The relocation is beneficial to the child if it improves his standard of living, places her in a better school district, or is closer to his or her grandparents.

Mediation After Divorce In Florida

You must decide where and how your child will live and where he or she will go to school. You’ve learned that an amicable relationship between you two parents and a good relationship with each of you is important to your child. Understanding and agreeing with your co-parent is less stressful and less expensive than contesting the relocation.You won’t have to go to court or pay legal fees and court costs. Look at the whole picture. How long did it take you to build your practice? How long did it take you to get into the position you’re in now? Have you
acquired vacation property or opened a new store or office? Your money is better spent on time with your child, on his or her education, or on a future vacation. You two can’t possibly know the future, but you can understand child custody rights. Custody can be:

• Sole
• Joint
• Joint legal
• Joint physical
• Third-party

Child Custody After Divorce in Florida

If one parent has sole custody, the custodial parent makes all legal decisions for your child. The noncustodial parent pays financial support and has specified visitation days and hours with your child. Joint custody allows your child to live with each parent and enjoy all the opportunities each parent provides, but one parent may spend more hours with the child than the other. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make decisions for the children regarding their education, religion, medical care, and choice of friends. Joint physical custody gives both parents equal time with the child. Third-party custody is typically given to a family member. A grandparent can be granted child custody rights if a parent is unfit or died after divorce in Florida. A custodial grandparent needs financial support and medical benefits for the child.

Relocation by Consent

Relocation by consent after divorce in Florida requires the moving parent to obtain the signed consent of all the people entitled to access to the child. The new agreement must be ratified by the court, but a hearing is not necessary. The new agreement must include a new time-sharing schedule and clarify how the children will travel from parent to parent to satisfy the new agreement.

Relocation by Petition

If the relocating parent is unable to get an agreed relocation order, that parent creates and files a petition to relocate in Florida Circuit Court. Every parent, stepparent, grandparent, and guardian involved must be served with a copy of the petition. The petition, signed under oath, must state the physical address of the intended residence and its mailing address, telephone number, and the date of the relocation. If employment is the reason you’re relocating, your job offer is within the petition. The petition must end with a statement in capital letters telling those opposed how to object to the relocation petition.

Objection to Relocation

A parent has 20 days to respond when served with a petition to relocate after divorce in Florida. If you do not file a timely response, the court can order the relocation plan without a hearing. Our child custody rights lawyer in Florida is a trustworthy mediator who can skillfully find creative solutions to your relocation dilemma. Our attorney is also a fierce litigator always ready to go to court to object to the other parent’s relocation with your child. A hearing will be scheduled in 30 days after receipt of your petition to object with a trial in 90 days. The court can reject your objection or the relocation plan itself if either petition does not contain all the facts required by Florida law.

Your objection must be factual. Clearly show your involvement with your child, your contribution to your child’s support, and state how relocation is likely to effect your child. For example, your son is doing well in school, just joined a soccer team, and doesn’t want to leave his half-brother and his friends. The judge will consider your child’s age. If your child is 14 years old or older, the judge may let your child decide where he or she wants to live. Judges keep siblings together for emotional support.

Biological Fathers

In Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762 (1977), the United States Supreme Court ruled that state courts can rule that a man other than your child’s biological father is your child’s dad. Competing presumptions in a highly contested custody case have been won either way. The Uniform Parentage Act gives equal rights to unmarried parents regardless of one parent’s divorce in Florida. DNA and blood tests determine whether a man is a child’s father with 100% accuracy. Our family lawyer in Florida may be able to help you gain a relationship with your child if his or her mother is relocating. A biological parent who never visited his or her child may have no child custody rights or a claim with merit. If you’re the noncustodial parent, you need to stay in your child’s life because you can lose your child custody rights after divorce in Florida.

Modification of Existing Custody Order

Substance abuse and domestic violence are grounds for a custody hearing after divorce in Florida. If you got arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol with your kids in the car, our family conflict lawyer in Florida can help with a domestic order of protection against the at-fault party for the children. Good people make mistakes they later regret. If you’re truly sorry, consider your business and your reputation. Your children need the financial support of both parents. Our family lawyer in Florida may be able to help you negotiate a positive outcome after your conviction.

Relocating Without Consent

If you move more than 50 miles away from home with your child without a new custody order and time sharing plan, our family law attorney can try to help you avoid contempt of court proceedings. You can be ordered to return the child or face sanctions during the modification of your parenting or time-sharing plan. Our child custody lawyer in Florida can help you if you have relocated with your child without consent of the court.

The court considers the child’s age and current needs. How will the relocation impact the child’s development? Will the relocation improve the child’s future? Are both parents current and participating in their obligations to their child after divorce in Florida?

Law Office of Erin Morse

Call our child custody rights attorney to discuss relocating with a child after divorce in our conveniently located Orlando, Florida, law office. Our family law attorney devotes her entire practice to family law: divorce, child custody, child support, military divorce, modifications, paternity, parental time-sharing and visitation. She’ll help you negotiate a brighter future. Our family law lawyer in Florida can also serve as a guardian ad Litem in a contested custody case.