Time Sharing, Visitation Plans and Child Custody Agreements
When a family is no longer living as an intact unit, it is necessary to establish a court order for time sharing for the children. There are two ways to proceed in court to establish a time-sharing or custody order.
- First, a dissolution of marriage action will result in a custody order.
- Second, a paternity action (for people who are not married) can also establish a custody order.
The custody order will include a “parenting plan” which resolves issues of parental responsibility, time sharing and child support.
Time Sharing & Custody Attorneys in Gainesville, FL
The parenting plan will be established by agreement between the parties (the spouses) or by order of the court. When the parties are able to agree to all terms, the agreement must still be reviewed by the judge. The judge must then find that the agreement is in the “best interest” of the minor children. When the parties are unable to agree, each side will present evidence and arguments to the judge. The judge will make the final decision as to what the parenting plan will include regarding:
- parental responsibility,
- and all issues related to the children.
Our child custody lawyers can help you by preparing your case for court with legally admissible evidence so that the judge is able to understand the situation from your perspective while also avoiding common pitfalls made by unrepresented litigants.
In addition to the issues of parental responsibility and time-sharing, other issues can also be resolved in a parenting plan, such as:
- the school designation that indicates where the child will go to school;
- in which extra-curricular activities the child will participate;
- how transportation between the parties will be arranged and how transportation will be paid for between the parties; and
- any other matters that need to be resolved between the parties.
Types of Parenting Plans
There are other types of parenting plans such as the safety-focused parenting plan which are more appropriate in a situation involving domestic violence. There are also parenting plans that may be more suitable for families where one of the parents live out of state. The needs of each family are unique, and you should discuss your individual situation with one of our family law attorneys to help tailor the parenting plan to the needs of your family. The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates offers a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns regarding time-sharing or custody issues. Speak with one of our attorneys today.
Child Custody & Visitation Plans
A child custody agreement is a legal document that outlines how the custody of a child will be arranged between parents. The most common forms of child custody agreements are as followed:
- Legal Custody: Legal custody of a child allows a parent to make all of the important decisions pertaining to the child’s life. For example, the parent has the legal right to choose the school, health care, and religious teachings for the child.
- Physical Custody: Physical custody allows a child to live with a parent. The physical custodian parent does not have to have legal custody.
- Sole Custody: Sole custody allows only one parent to serve as the provider and caretaker of the child. This parent is also responsible for all of the decisions that govern the child’s everyday life.
- Joint Custody: Joint custody allows both parents to share physical custody of a child. In essence, the child lives with both parents during certain times of the month and/or year.
Florida child custody laws have been enacted to protect the safety, health and well-being of children when parents split. For further information and understanding of these complex laws and how they impact your child, you should contact an experienced family law attorney at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates.
Many people mistakenly believe that child custody and visitation mean the same thing. This assertion is false.
- Visitation rights are granted to the parent that does not have physical custody over the child.
- Visitation rights allow the noncustodial parent to visit and/or spend time with the child, a very necessary component to a child’s healthy growth and childhood development.
For assistance with a visitation plan, you should rely on our experienced child custody attorneys.
Benefits of a Time-Sharing Plan
Time sharing is another way for both parents to be present and active in their children’s lives.
What is time sharing?
Time-sharing allows parents to make literal time-sharing arrangements with each other regarding which spouse will spend time with the child and for how long. In most cases, time-sharing arrangements are arranged in a family court of law.
There are many benefits to time-sharing plans. Among them are:
- Consistent arrangement simplifies life for both parents and the child.
- The child has the opportunity to enjoy the company of both parents.
- The child will develop greater confidence and positive self-esteem.
- Time sharing promotes healthy familial relationships.
Why You Need a Family Law Attorney
Drafting time-sharing plans, determining custody, and developing child visitation rights are not always easy. In fact, the process can be highly technical and emotional. In order to protect your child’s interest, you should contact a family law attorney. Here is what an experienced family lawyer can do for you:
- Ensure that all forms of paperwork are filed properly and in a timely manner
- Negotiate on your behalf
- Protect your rights to your child
- Negotiate and help you reach an agreement that works in the best interest of your child, while also including your interests in the process
- Ensure that your child is not placed into the hands of anyone that may compromise his/her emotional, mental, physical and sexual health, safety and well-being
At the law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, our experienced family law attorneys are proud to serve your family during this significant time. Time sharing, visitation plans, and establishment of custody are not always easy processes to go through, but with our help, your child’s well-being will be protected.
Florida Child Custody FAQs
Child custody is never a simple matter. There are several factors to consider throughout the process in efforts for the total needs of a child to be met during separation or divorce. For information on how Florida child custody works, speak to child custody lawyers in Gainesville, FL.
How is custody, timesharing and visitation different?
Custody refers to the physical and/or legal care and maintenance of a child by a parent or guardian. Timesharing is the method that parents rely on to ensure that children are able to spend time with both parents following separation or divorce. During most divorce proceedings, a custodial parent is established. This is the parent whose home the child will mainly reside in. Visitation rights are usually granted to the noncustodial parent to spend time with the child. Ultimately, child custody, timesharing and visitation are different, but they work together to ensure that the interests of a child are upheld.
Will I need a lawyer to determine child custody?
Yes. Florida family law attorneys are always beneficial during the process of child custody determination. Legal representation is especially key if you and your co-parent are both fighting for sole custody of the child.
What is the purpose of a parenting plan?
Parenting plans are documents that address how a child will be raised and cared for following separation or divorce. It is designed to make parenting between two parents who do not live in the same household simpler, more organized, and more efficient. A good parenting plan may outline how decisions will be made on behalf of the child, methods of communication, timesharing arrangements, and strategies for conflict resolution.
As its name implies, timesharing refers to the concept of parents adhering to a schedule of visitation in order to spend time with their child.
Is it possible to gain sole custody of my child?
Yes. It is possible to gain sole legal custody or sole physical custody of your child through a petition with a court of law. Courts are more likely to grant sole custody to one parent when the other parent is deemed unfit (as demonstrated via abusive behaviors or drug dependency). If your co-parent is not deemed unfit, courts may grant joint custody instead to ensure that both parents are able to play an active role in the child’s life. Visit our Florida family law firm for an in-depth understanding of how this process works.
How do I obtain sole custody of my children?
During divorce and/or child custody court hearings, you have the right to request sole custody with the appropriate judge via a petition. Based on the reasoning and materials submitted, as well as the interests of the child, the judge will make the decision on who obtains sole custody of the children.
Am I required to share custody of my child?
Yes. If the judge rules that joint custody is necessary, you and your co-parent will be required to work together to address the needs of your child and spend equal amounts of time with your child. Even if you are granted sole custody of your child, it is likely that your co-parent will have visitation rights that you must honor.
If, the co-parent is abusive or unsafe to be around, the judge may revoke his/her custody rights to your child.
Will I be denied custody if I leave my children with their other parent?
If you leave your children with their other parent, you may experience difficulty attempting to gain custody. Even in cases in which there are compelling reasons for a parent’s need to leave his/her children, a judge will strongly consider the act during the custody determination process.
Do mothers have a greater chance of being awarded custody than fathers?
Statistics reveal that mothers are awarded custody more than fathers. This may be due to the fact that many children are being born in families in which parents are unmarried. In these type of cases, mothers are automatically awarded custody. Further, historically, women have served the role of primary caretakers at a much higher rate than fathers.
Despite this, it is important to realize that there are several factors that are considered when courts determine custody. Gender or sex will not harm your chances of being awarded custody.
Is race a contributing factor in custody or visitation decisions?
No. Race is irrelevant in custody and visitation decisions.
Who is responsible for determining the amount of visitation that is reasonable and fair?
Because the custodial parent often maintains the everyday care of the child, he/she is usually responsible for setting guidelines for visitation. We recommend open communication between parents to ensure that the child has fair access to both parents. If issues persist, a judge may intervene.
Is it best to use the mediation method to solve child custody issues?
If you and your co-parent are willing to sit down with a third party and address child custody issues in a collaborative manner, mediation may work for you. Mediation is less costly and less time-consuming than settling in court. Further, mediation sets forth an environment that encourages negotiation, compromise, and openness, which may help parents solve future conflicts with ease.
What is the role(s) of the "primary caretaker"?
The primary caretaker is the person who handles the most responsibility of a child and handles his/her daily or routine activities. These duties may include transporting a child to and from educational, medical or extracurricular facilities, overseeing bathing and assignments, and providing the child with nutritious foods. Usually, the primary caretaker is the custodial parent.
If I was never married to my child’s mother, is it still possible to gain custody of my child?
Generally, unwed mothers are automatically granted custody of the child. It will be difficult to acquire custody of your child, especially if your child’s mother is a responsible parent. If you have established paternity, however, you are owed specific rights to your child. This will allow you to pursue joint custody or gain visitation rights.
How are the "physical" and "legal" custodies of children different?
Physical custody involves the residency determinations of the child. It determines which parent the child will reside with. Physical custody is usually granted to one parent. Meanwhile, legal custody deals with the decisions that are made on behalf of a child, such as those pertaining to religion and health care. Both parents can be granted legal custody.
As a single mother who has never been married to my child’s father, should I expect the father to have legal rights to custody?
Yes. Once the father has established paternity, he is entitled to pursue legal rights such as joint custody and visitation.
My former spouse and I are able to work collaboratively toward our child custody issues. Is it possible to craft a custody/timesharing plan without court intervention?
You and your former spouse can very well draft a custody and timesharing plan to govern how the needs of your child will be met following divorce. This document will need to be reviewed and approved by a judge upon completion. Most parents have positive experiences with this method.
Is it only possible for parents to be awarded custody?
No. In cases in which both parents are deemed unsafe or unfit to tend to the needs of a child, a guardian may be assigned.
Am I legally required to grant my child’s grandparents with visitation rights?
No. Only parents and appointed guardians are legally entitled to visitation rights.
For more information on Florida child custody, contact Silverman, Mack & Associates today.