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Family Law

Clearwater Child Custody Attorney

Child custody can be an emotional and complex issue

Child custody, referred to as “parental responsibility” by Florida courts, is often the most passionate issue that families confront during the dissolution of marriage in Florida. A court’s determination as to which parent gets physical custody of the child is critical for that child’s well-being and upbringing. Much of the law surrounding responsibility has changed with the recent introduction of parenting plans by Florida courts

Clearwater child custody attorney, James L. Slater, provides representation to parents going through the child custody process. If you are facing a divorce involving children, James L. Slater can help you understand your rights and options.

What is a parenting plan, and how is it determined?

In 2008, the laws surrounding parental responsibility changed significantly. If you are undergoing a Clearwater divorce where child custody of a minor is an issue, you and your former spouse must submit a parenting plan to the court. The plan must describe in detail how you intend to provide for and raise the child. This includes:

  • How you and your former spouse will share responsibility for the child
  • How you both intend to accomplish daily tasks associated with the child’s upbringing
  • A designation of which parent is to be responsible for healthcare and school-related matters
  • The method by which you will both communicate with the child

There are several varieties of parenting plans which you can choose to follow. You can file for shared parental responsibility, relocation or long-distance parenting, among other options.

What happens if one parent does not follow the parenting plan?

Parenting plans are very important, and it is critical that you abide by the terms as much as possible. The terms can be modified simply by mutual agreement of both parents, but be careful. Failure to follow the terms may result in contempt of court, a fine or jail time. Before you decide to modify a parenting plan, make sure you consult a Clearwater modification attorney first.

How is parental responsibility determined in Florida?

Florida’s policy is to make sure that each parent shares in the rights and responsibilities of child-raising. However, one parent may be given primary or “physical” custody of the child. A court decides primary child custody by determining “the best interests of the child.” In doing so, the court must weigh a number of factors, including:

  • The ability of each parent to meet obligations and be reasonable when changes are required
  • The desirability of maintaining a stable environment
  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • Any evidence of abuse or domestic violence by one parent
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after litigation
  • The anticipated ability of each parent to act upon the needs of the child
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan
  • The home, community and school record of the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child

There are many other factors that a court must consider by law. If you have questions about factors that affect child custody, speak with our Clearwater child custody attorney James L. Slater to learn more.

Contact us for an initial consultation on Florida child custody law at our office in Clearwater

James L. Slater, Attorney at Law provides representation to individuals with child custody issues. Our Clearwater child custody attorney, James L. Slater, has worked with countless parents to resolve their child custody problems. Contact us for a free initial consultation at 727.787.7773 or online at our Clearwater office if you have questions about your situation.

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