Child custody disputes can be contentious when a couple divorces in Tampa, particularly if one parent views the other as unfit to raise the child. The courts must find an arrangement that best meets the child’s needs, but parents may disagree on the best custody plan and who is best equipped to take care of the child. With so much at stake, working with a Tampa child custody lawyer is your best bet to make the process as smooth and calm as possible.
At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we understand how sensitive these issues can be and want to help you reach the best possible outcome in your case. We have substantial experience with these cases and will make the legal process as easy as possible.
Overview of Florida Law on Child Custody Agreements
Florida law refers to “custody” as “parenting time” or “timesharing.” Regarding child custody disputes in Florida, the overriding principle the courts are supposed to follow is to do what is in the child’s best interests. Essentially, the courts are looking for the child’s parents to create a plan that ensures the child’s needs are met, the child has a stable home, and both parents have time with the child.
The problem is that parents may disagree on what is in the child’s best interests and who is best prepared to care for the child. While the courts generally prefer that both parents have custody of a child after a divorce, they will not place a child in danger by having the child spend time with an irresponsible or unsafe parent. If the parents cannot reach a custody agreement on their own or the proposed agreement is not acceptable to the courts, it’s up to a judge to decide which parent will have custody.
What Are the Factors in Determining Child Custody?
Florida law outlines the factors the courts must consider when making custody decisions. Those factors include:
- Each parent’s desire to take care of the child and maintain the parent-child relationship
- Each parent’s desire and ability to share responsibilities and follow agreed-upon timesharing schedules
- Each parent’s ability to care and provide for the child
- The child’s age
- How much time the child has spent in their current home
- The child’s medical, educational, and other needs
- Any evidence or history of domestic abuse in the household
- Each parent’s ability to communicate with the other and do what’s best for the child
How Can a Child Custody Order Be Modified?
You can file a petition with the Florida courts to modify a custody order, but the courts will not modify an order simply because you don’t like the current custody arrangement.
To modify a child custody order, you must show how a substantial change in the child’s circumstances has impacted the existing custody arrangement. Alternatively, a parent can modify a custody order by showing how changes in their circumstances have affected the child’s life.
In either case, the petitioning parent must establish how changing the custody arrangement will help the child.