Compassionate Guidance When Legal Issues Involve Your Children
Decisions having to do with your children will be some of the most difficult — and important — ones that you will make during your separation. In this area, it is even more vital that you put aside your differences, if possible, and cooperate to make decisions that are in the best interest of your children.
In Florida, the assumption is that the best situation for children after a divorce is one in which parental responsibility (often called custody by our clients) is shared between the parents. Many people believe this means that the children will split their time between the parents 50-50.
The courts, however, only look at the best interest of the children. This may mean that the children will live with one parent, while the other parent is encouraged to visit them often.
The parents’ roles before the separation, the lifestyles of the parents and the amount of contact each parent has had with the children all have more weight than the idea of 50-50 time-sharing.
Every case is different.
Protecting Your Children
At Shaughnessy Law, our lawyers will help you put your children first and negotiate assertively for a fair, workable arrangement. We will also explain:
- The role of the court: If you cannot come to an agreement, the court will determine parental responsibility. It will consider whether the parents are able to cooperate and whether each supports the child’s relationship with his or her other parent or encourages alienation. Any history of violence, abuse or neglect will be taken into account, as will the child’s wishes if the child is old enough. Parents who do not follow existing time-sharing agreements may end up being forced to do so by the court.
- Child support: Florida law calculates support based on the incomes of both parents, keeping the lifestyle of the children as close as possible to what it was before separation. Failure to follow time-sharing plans will not excuse failure to pay child support, or vice versa.
- Relocation: If either parent wishes to move with the children, the reason for the move and the effect on the child’s relationship with the other parent will be taken into account.
- Military families: If one or both parents are in the armed forces, deployment may influence decisions about where the children will live, and disputes about child support may be taken up with the military parent’s commanders as well as with the court.