Child Custody FAQ

Our West Palm Beach Child Custody Attorney Is Here to Help

Picture of daughter next to mother and father

By their nature, child custody cases often elicit strong emotions. This may be because parents care deeply about the well-being of their children. Tensions may also be high from a recent or ongoing divorce process. Whatever your circumstances, it is natural to have many questions about child custody, the legal process and what to expect in a child custody dispute. Below, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about child custody in Florida for your convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody in Florida

How Is Custody Determined in Florida?

In Florida, judges determine custody rights based on what will be most beneficial to the child. A joint custody, or shared parental responsibility, ruling is usually favored by default. This ruling is subject to change if the judge finds it to be detrimental to the best interest of the child.

A child’s best interests involve their need for healthy and safe living conditions. It also includes having a parent or parents who put the child’s needs first and are actively involved in their child’s life.

Can the Father Get Child Custody?

The only case in which sex is relevant to a child custody case is when paternity has not been established. Once it is clear who the father is, Florida grants no privileges to either parent based on sex. Instead, courts decide custody rulings based on the best interests of the child.

Do Moms Always Get Child Custody?

No. While an unmarried mother will get legal custody by default, this situation is not set in stone. Florida grants no special privileges to any parents on the basis of sex. Instead, the courts usually rule in favor of shared parental responsibility.

How Are Custody Agreements Enforced?

After agreements have been made about custody and time-sharing, parents must adhere to them by law. When a parent fails or refuses to follow the parenting plan, the other parent may pursue legal action.

You may need to file a targeted motion detailing the violations so it can be remedied. Our West Palm Beach child custody lawyer can help you understand your best options.

What Is Time-Sharing?

If the court rules that both parents will share responsibilities, then the parents must agree to a time-sharing schedule. This schedule includes details of how and when the child’s needs will be met through an outlined plan for the child’s development.

The plan may include how and where the child goes to school, sees a physician, and how much time they spend with each parent. If both parents cannot agree upon a satisfactory time-sharing schedule, then a judge will step in.

How Do I Get Sole Custody in Florida?

Getting sole custody, more accurately termed as “sole parental responsibility.” of a child does not mean that the other parent is completely out of the picture. Sole parental responsibility means that one parent has the responsibility of making big life decisions for the child. The other parent must honor the big picture decisions that the parent with sole parental responsibility makes.

Usually, the court appoints sole parental responsibility to one parent if the other parent is in some way an unfit guardian. A parent may be deemed unfit if they have a history with drug abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues or child abuse or neglect.

How Long Does a Child Custody Case Take in Florida?

The timespan of a child custody, also termed as “parental responsibility”, case in Florida depends on many influencing factors. Disagreement among parents about the time-sharing plan or responsibilities may slow down the case. A lot of time could be spent in court if parents cannot come to a reasonable agreement.

Psychological examinations of the child or testimonies from third parties may also take time. The more complicated or contentious the case, the more time you can expect a child custody case to take.

What Are Florida’s Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents?

If paternity is not recognized in court, an unmarried father has no custody or time-sharing rights. In this case, mothers have full legal custody to children by default. If a DNA test confirms paternity, the unmarried father is granted parental rights and time-sharing rights.

What Are Florida’s Child Custody Laws About Moving Out of State?

If a parent decides to move from Florida to a different state, they must have the decision approved before relocating the child. This can happen a couple of ways. The other parent can approve and the court can sign off on the arrangement. In other cases, the decision is brought before a judge who may find the benefits of a relocation outweigh the costs. Generally speaking, the relocation has to be found in the best interest of the child.

How Do I Change a Custody Agreement in Florida?

After a custody agreement, also termed as “parenting plan” is made, you have the option to file for changes in the agreement. The changes you wish to make must be supported by a change in circumstances. You must show that some relevant situation has changed which warrants the courts’ reconsideration of the agreement. These changes in circumstances do not need to be extreme, but relevant.

Can I Get Custody If I Am Not the Parent?

Generally, the courts favor biological parents for settling custody cases. However, the court may grant custody to non-parents, like grandparents in some situations. This often happens when both parents are deceased, one parent is deceased and the other is unfit, or both parents are unfit. It may also occur when both biological parents give up their custody and parental rights.

Who Pays Attorney Fees in a Child Custody Case?

The judge can decide who will pay for attorney fees based on a few different factors. Financial resources and income will determine who has the ability to pay for what, and who needs help. Other details of the case may also play a part in determining who will pay what fees. A judge may also rule that each party pay their own attorney fees.

Do You Have Further Questions About Child Custody or Time-Sharing?

If your question is not listed here, you can also contact our child custody attorney in West Palm Beach. We can provide you with more information about child custody to help you understand your particular case. You can reach us by phone at 561-655-8844 or fill out our online contact form.