Reaching a child custody agreement is often one of the most complicated and stressful aspects of a divorce. There are a variety of options that are available, so it is important that you understand the terms used by the court when discussing custody.
The best interests of the child are used by Florida courts to determine all matters related to a custody award of a minor child. It is public policy for the Court to approach every case with the aim of providing minor children with frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the divorce and to promote the sharing of child rearing responsibilities between the parents, unless the evidence indicates this is not in the best interest of the child.
Below are some of the legal terms you should be familiar with so you understand your child custody options:
- Legal custody. The parent with legal custody has the responsibility and the right to make the major decisions for the child’s welfare. This includes decisions regarding the child’s education, religious upbringing and medical care.
- Physical custody. The parent awarded physical custody has the child the majority of the time. This is the parent the child primarily lives with.
- Visitation. Visitation, also referred to as “parenting time,” is the actual time the children spend with each parent.
The above three decisions will be made by the Court within the context of whether sole custody or joint custody is being awarded. Sole custody means that one parent is awarded legal and physical custody of the child. Joint custody means that both parents share legal and physical custody of the child. In Florida, you may hear joint custody referred to as “shared parental responsibility” and both parents must approve all decisions related to the child. Typically, one parent is named the primary joint custodian and the other parent is given visitation rights.
There are a wide variety of issues that must be negotiated between divorcing parents. To ensure that your child’s best interests are being protected, contact us for help.
If you need assistance with your divorce, contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm today. Our approach to family law is quite simple: we listen to you; we return your calls promptly; we keep you prepared and informed; we respect your time; we understand your concerns; and, most importantly, we care.