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What Florida parents need to know about state custody laws

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2023 | Family Law

Florida parents often default to shared child-rearing arrangements while they are in a relationship with one another. People tend to live with their romantic partners or spouses and to share responsibility for their children. However, when the relationship between parents ends, there may be questions about who should care for and live with the children moving forward.

Adults in Florida need to understand the state’s basic custody laws so that they can negotiate an appropriate arrangement with a co-parent or prepare to take the matter to family court.

Florida uses parenting plans

There has been a shift in the language used to describe co-parenting relationships in recent years. There is now more of a focus on parental rights and responsibilities and less focus on custody. As a result, after a split, parents or a judge will create a parenting plan that discusses time-sharing and other major concerns related to co-parenting. The parenting plan usually discusses the breakdown of decision-making authority for matters related to healthcare and education. It should also outline how parents can communicate with the children when they are with the other parent.

The main consideration for the courts when reviewing or creating a parenting plan will be the best interests of the children. Most children benefit from having a positive relationship with both of their parents and a stable, predictable schedule. Parents and judges should therefore try to make life as predictable as possible. A thorough parenting plan can reduce the conflict between co-parents by clarifying their responsibilities to one another and their shared children.

Once a parenting plan receives approval from the courts, it has the same authority as any other court order. Parents who do not abide by their parenting plan could face enforcement efforts. If the family circumstances change and require different arrangements, the parents usually have to go back to court to modify the parenting plan instead of making informal adjustments between themselves.

Although it can be difficult to negotiate a parenting plan, many adults are happier with the outcome of a family law matter when they set their own terms instead of relying on a judge to make key decisions for the family. As such, thinking carefully about one’s children’s needs can be a good starting point for those who need to put together a parenting plan in Florida.