Jacksonville Child Custody Lawyer
Child Custody Attorney Proudly Serving Jacksonville
One of the hardest aspects of divorce is going through the process of child custody. A child going through a parent’s separation and subsequent divorce is usually under duress and in need of a comforting consistency when it comes to time with each parent. This end is usually very hard to achieve from two parents who may have animosity between them. For this reason, the assistance and direction of an attorney is paramount. Contact a Jacksonville child custody lawyer who has several years of experience helping families achieve peaceful and fair custody agreements.
What Is Child Custody?
Child custody is a legal term that describes both the practical and legal relationship between a parent and child. Child custody defines both the parent’s rights to raise the child as he or she sees fit, such as the right to pick the child’s religious instruction, and the parent’s duty to care for his or her child.
Understanding Time-Sharing and Parental Responsibility
There are two components to child custody. The first is Time-Sharing, which refers to the number of overnights annually that parents physically have with their child. The second element to custody is Parental Responsibility, which entails a parent’s right to make decisions for their child. Parental Responsibility can be shared, sole or ultimate only related to certain aspects of a child’s life.
Time-Sharing: Determining where one’s children will live can also limit the time the other parent has with that child. For this reason, determining Time-Sharing can be the most contentious and traumatic parts of the divorce process.
Parental Responsibility: refers to a parent’s decision-making rights regarding their child’s schooling, physical health, and general welfare. There is a presumption under Florida law that shared Parental Responsibility is best for children, absent domestic violence between the parents.
It’s customary for the Florida family law courts to name one parent as the majority Time-Sharing parent, while the other parent is given a Time-Sharing schedule. There are also situations where the court grants both parents equal Time-Sharing and shared Parental Responsibility, giving equal and ample access to the children. Usually both parents are granted legal custody, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Even if a parent is not awarded majority Time-Sharing, many times they will be granted shared Parental Responsibility.
Sound confusing? It’s a complicated process with many different parts. The attorneys at The Law Office A. Sam Jubran, P.A. can explain each step to you and guide you through the process, keeping your needs as our first priority.
What Are the Different Types of Child Custody?
There are four different types of child custody: physical, legal, sole, and joint.
Physical custody is when the parent has the right to have his or her child live with him or her. In some states, if the child spends significant ties with both parents, the courts will award both parents with joint physical custody. Keep in mind that joint physical custody works best if the parents live fairly close to each other. That close proximity lessens the stress on the child and allows the child to develop and maintain a somewhat normal routine.
If the child primarily lives with one parent and the other parent has visitation, then, usually the parent who primarily lives with the child will have sole physical custody while the other parent will have visitation rights with the child.
Legal custody gives a parent both the rights and the obligations of making decisions to care and raise the child. For instance, a parent with legal custody can make decisions about his or her child’s medical care, schooling, and religion. Courts may award joint legal custody to both parents, meaning that both parents have a say in making important decisions regarding their child.
If the parent with joint legal custody excludes the other parent from participating in making a decision regarding their child, the other parent can go to court and ask a judge to enforce the custody agreement. The excluding parent will not go to jail or be fined for the exclusion, but it could be embarrassing and cause tension between both parents, which could harm their child.
If you believe that your circumstances make it extremely difficult or impossible to share joint legal custody, for instance because the other parent is abusive or will not discuss important matters with you, you may petition the court for sole legal custody. Courts generally prefer to give both parents joint legal custody, so you will have to convince the family court judge over your case that having joint legal custody is not in your child’s best interests.
A family court may award a parent either sole physical custody or sole legal custody of a child. Courts generally do not hesitate to award one parent with sole physical custody to one parent if the court deems that the other parent is unfit.
However, courts are moving toward enlarging the role that divorced fathers play in their child’s life and away from awarding sole custody to one parent. Even if a court does award sole physical custody to one parent, it is common for the parents to share joint legal custody and to give the noncustodial parent a charitable visitation schedule. In that circumstance, the parents make joint decisions regarding raising the child.
Parents who live apart can receive joint or shared custody if they share the physical control and custody of their child along with the decision-making responsibilities. Parents can receive joint custody if they are separated, divorced, no longer living together, or if they never lived together. Joint custody may be joint:
- Physical custody, where the child spends a significant amount of time with each parent;
- Legal custody; or
- Physical and legal custody.
How Does the Court Determine Custody?
The one phrase that sums up the standard in reaching custody orders is “What is in the best interest of the child?” Florida is one of many states that decides visitation and custody of a child with this question in mind. A Jacksonville divorce attorney at The Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, P.A. can help you understand what factors the courts consider when deciding which parent gets custody of your child.
A state’s laws and statutes also play a big part in determining custody. The attorneys at The Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, P.A. have ample experience working within the Jacksonville family court system. We understand these laws and statutes and can educate you on their meaning and importance.
The “best interest of the child” standard gives the factors that are in the child’s best interests the greatest priority when deciding child custody issues. The items or factors that are in the best interests of a child vary from situation to situation and depend on the following. The:
- Child’s age, sex, physical health, and mental health;
- Parent’s physical health and mental health;
- Emotional bond between the parent and his or her child and the parent’s ability to give guidance to the child;
- Parent’s ability to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical care to the child;
- Parent’s lifestyle, along with other social factors such as whether there is a history of abuse or whether the child will be exposed to second-hand smoke by the parent;
- Quality of the child’s current education;
- Child’s customary living pattern such as his or her home, community, school, community, religious institution, etc.;
- Impact on the child of changing his or her status quo; and
- Child’s preference for which parent has custody, if the child is above a certain age, typically about 12 years old.
Preparing for the Custody Determination Process
The most difficult part about this process is the emotional pressure you’re under. It can make the decision-making process much more difficult. But this is the time period where your actions will be most scrupulously observed and recorded. And your behavior will be a key factor in assigning child custody. It’s at this time, more than ever, that you need an attorney to direct you and advise you on which actions to take.
The first part of advice that we give to our clients is to document everything. A court process is a fact-driven one and proof of your claims must be presented.
As previously mentioned, your behavior will be scrutinized. So unreasonable and antagonistic behavior may have an extremely damaging effect on your case. Be aware of your actions throughout the process.
Maintain a regular schedule with your children in whom you play a part, in their schooling, health, and hobbies. Demonstrate that you encourage a relationship with their other parent and facilitate this time with your child. A regular sleep schedule, a safe home, and adequate belongings for your child should be maintained.
You need a Jacksonville child custody lawyer who can help you organize your life to meet these requirements. We can also help in determining child support issues and establishing a child support agreement.
How the Process Works
The first step the courts will take is to establish a parenting plan for each parent. It’s a document that is included in the final judgment. This outlines the schedule and habits that each parent will maintain when they have their child. It’s important to garner advantageous and feasible results while the parenting plan is being decided. If there’s a change in a parent’s circumstances, the parenting plan can be modified through petition to the court.
Experienced Jacksonville Child Custody Lawyer
The attorneys at The Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, P.A. have a myriad of experience working with families to determine child custody. Trust a Jacksonville child custody lawyer to fight for the results you desire.