What You Should Know about Child Custody in Florida

Whenever a family law issue arises, it’s important to choose an attorney who understands Florida’s new terminology with regard to child custody and visitation. In the 2008 Parenting Bill, the Florida state legislature determined that terms like child custody, visitation, and custodial parent were no longer sufficient to describe parental rights in the aftermath of a divorce or separation.

Although the 2008 Parenting Bill aimed to create a subtle shift in the emphasis of the law, reminding parents that “it takes a village to raise a child,” it has real and tangible consequences for attorneys and, possibly, your own case. The entire paradigm of primary custody with visitation by the other parent has been scrapped, empowering the party formerly known as the “non-custodial parent” (often the father). In an effort to emphasize that parenting is a shared responsibility between both parents, and that they should both be significantly involved in the upbringing of their children, the legislation now refers to child custody as “parental responsibility,” and visitation as “time-sharing.” Neither parent is recognized any longer as a primary child custodian or non-custodial parent.

Time-sharing can be one of the most contentious areas of family law, as the relationship between the two parents can tend to interfere with one or both parents’ rights. If one parent is sabotaging the other parent’s relationship with the child, legal recourse is available in court.

The bottom line is that Florida’s 2008 Parenting Bill makes it increasingly likely for an equitable rearrangement of time-sharing to occur, in accordance with the Court’s judgment of the best interest of the child. It’s important to remember that although divorcing your spouse, you aren’t divorcing your child. The amount of time-sharing you receive will affect your expected child support payments. It’s vital that you consult an experienced family law attorney to represent your legal interests both in court and to your child’s other parent.