What Affects Child Custody Decisions?

There are several factors to consider when figuring out child custody, but it is important to remember that the courts look to the child’s best interest when making decisions. Having a Sarasota family lawyer with experience can help present an outcome that not only ensures the best interest of the child standard is met, but also achieves the custody arrangement that you want.

941 Law Help can help you reach your custody and child support goals that satisfy the “best interest” standard. Child custody attorney Michael Fayard will fight any inequitable notions that won’t benefit you or your children.

Time-Sharing & Parental Responsibility in Florida

Instead of using terms like custody or visitation, the courts generally discuss these concepts by referring to them as “time-sharing” and “parental responsibility.” The courts try to reach the fairest result that ensures the child’s best interest by permitting both parents to have time with the child.

And through a parenting plan, which is just an order by the court that the parties usually create, each parent’s parental rights and duties are delineated. Examples of parental rights include school decisions, after-care, medical decisions, and extracurricular activities.

Parents can create their own parenting plan, whether by agreement by themselves, through their attorneys, or through formal mediation. But if they can’t reach a decision, the court handling their divorce will create a plan for them and order the parties to comply.

What Gets Evaluated During a Parenting Plan?

If the court decides on a parenting plan, it will craft a plan that attempts to suit any shared children’s best interests. Florida law posits that parents should get equal time with their children if there isn’t a legal reason they should be excluded, but there’s no standard to say one parent will get preference over the other.

The plan must cover how parents will split daily tasks, time-sharing arrangements, health care, school-related matters, and how parents will communicate with the children.

In a custody case, courts review parents’ ability to:

  • Put the children’s needs ahead of their own
  • Encourage a close relationship between the children and the other parent
  • Honor a time-sharing plan

Judges will also consider the geographic distance between households, either parent’s mental or physical health conditions, and how well the parent knows their children’s lives, like their teachers, friends, or interests.

A judge may also ask children their preferences for a parenting plan but will weigh those choices against their age and maturity.

Is Parenting Always Split Evenly?

Sometimes, a judge may deny parents equal custody or visitation altogether. If one of the parents has been convicted of domestic violence in the past or of any sexual assault crimes against a minor, the judge will probably not permit any shared time. They may still be responsible for some child support, however.

A Florida child custody attorney can explain how custody might be split if you can’t reach an agreement with your ex-partner.

Child Support Payments after a Separation

Child support payments are decided differently than custody. The parent with less time caring for shared children often makes child support payments to the parent watching the children more.

The court will calculate the amount of support owed after considering several factors based on a guideline worksheet. It will decide what’s best for the children by looking at their age, “station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent.” Even though the child support worksheet is called a “guideline,” it is actually mandatory in every case involving children and custody.

Evaluating Monthly Income

When the court calculates the amount of each payment, it evaluates each parent’s monthly income, looking at things like salary or wages; bonuses; business income; disability benefits; workers’ compensation settlements; pension, retirement, or annuity payments; interest and dividends; or even rental income.

Estimating Monthly Incomes

In some instances, the court may estimate the monthly income of one of the parents or even impute income to a parent. For example, if the parent isn’t cooperating with the child support hearings, won’t provide their financial information, or if they’re unemployed or underemployed, the court could rule that the offending party is responsible for some level of income that they might not currently have, but have the ability to earn.

Navigating child support payments can be complex alone, so relying on someone with knowledge and expertise in Florida family law is crucial to providing a stable life for your children.

Are Parenting Plans & Child Support Payments Final?

After a separation or divorce, things can change for families. Some parents may get new, better-paying jobs or be in an accident that leaves them unable to provide the same care as before.

If something changes in your life to affect your ability to parent, you can return to the court that established your parenting plan to change it. If your income or earning potential changed or your ex-partner got a raise, you might also be able to get your child support payments changed.

In Florida law, child support payments generally last until the child turns 18 (or 19 if the child is still in high school), but these payments can continue for much longer in the case of special needs children.

Check with our Florida child support lawyers to decide if you should return to court for a change in your parenting plan or support payments.

Turn to a Sarasota Child Support & Custody Lawyer

While all cases are unique, you’re not alone if you’re fighting for custody of your children or getting payments to take care of them. Having someone in your corner who knows Florida family law and can help you make the best decisions for you and your children.

Attorney Michael Fayard of 941 Law Help, is the Florida family law expert you should turn to for help in your custody and child support case. He’s got the knowledge and experience you need to answer your questions and work toward the best outcome for your family.

Call (941) 241-2453 or use the online consultation form today.

Michael Fayard helped us navigate an issue with leasing heavy equipment. Thanks to Mr. Fayard our issue was resolved smoothly. We would recommend him to anyone needing a diligent, hardworking attorney who is reachable and effective." - Sosa Sod