Understanding Child Custody Laws
When it comes to child custody, an attorney can help you navigate Florida’s new custody laws and get a timesharing plan that protects your rights as a father and protects your children’s best interests. In our family law office we understand the anger, frustration and confusion that is a natural part of divorce and custody conflicts because we’ve been there. We also know that your rights as a father need to be protected, because, although Florida’s child custody laws took a remarkable step toward giving fathers equal rights, a bias toward mothers still exists.
Florida law no longer designates one parent as primary custodial parent (which was usually the mother) and the other as visiting parent (guess who?). Now both parents have equal rights to time with their children and courts must develop timesharing plans that divide the child’s time as equally as practical between father and mother. This has huge impact on how courts order child support, since the father now fulfills more of his obligation for caring for the child through time rather than money. For details on how child support is calculated and how you will be affected, please read the following article: Explaining Florida’s Child Support Laws
How to Get More Time with Your Children & Pay Less Child Support
When it comes to developing a timesharing plan for parents who are divorcing, Florida family law dictates a judge’s decisions be guided by the child’s best interests. While the judge has a lot of room to interpret what that means, the judge’s orders must be based on what is in the best interest of the children involved.
The job of your child custody attorney and family law office is to show the court that having your child spend as much or more time with you than with their mother is in your child’s best interest. Or, because the law says that by default both parents have equal rights to time with the child, put the burden of proof on your spouse to show why you shouldn’t have equal time with your child. This should be difficult to prove and puts you in a position to be awarded equal time by default.
There are some additional considerations judges look at when approving or creating a timesharing plan that you can influence. You will increase your chances of having more time with your child and paying less child support if you:
- Demonstrate that you’re able and willing to facilitate and encourage a close relationship between your child and their mother.
- Show that you’re able and willing to honor the timesharing plan
- Exhibit an ability to be reasonable when changes to the plan are required
- Display an ability to identify your child’s needs, take them into consideration and act on them even when they get in the way of your own needs and desires.
- Express an understanding that the child belongs to both of you and is not just your child. Using the phrase “our child” or “our children” in court is a good way to show this understanding.
These things demonstrate to the court that your time with your child does not need to be restricted in order to serve the best interests of your child. Subsequently, with the help of your child custody attorney, it is likely that you’ll be awarded more time with your child, and subsequently ordered to pay less child support. If the mother and her child custody attorney cannot demonstrate these things, you may end up with more than 50% of the child’s time and be paid child support rather than paying it.
Parenting Classes — Not Optional
Florida family law requires that parents getting divorce attend a parenting class prior to completion of the divorce. Even though you may be an excellent parent, you may not fully understand how your role as a parent will change and how to deal with those changes. These required parenting classes address those issues and it’s to your benefit to comply with this requirement. Our family law office can recommend places to get this counseling.
You can talk about your divorce and custody case with our attorneys for free—there’s no cost or obligation. Find out what your rights are and how your circumstances are likely to affect your timesharing plan (visitation), and child support payments. Schedule a free consultation with a child custody attorney in Florida on our Free Consults page. Or Call our family law office toll-free today at 866-995-0166.