Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.
When should I fight for custody of my kids in Florida? Florida no longer recognizes custody as an issue in divorces, but has established the term, “time-sharing.” However, the same principals apply as previously, which include determining the parent that should have the majority time-sharing with the children. Often, parents can agree that one parent has been with the children the primary amount of time during the marriage and that things should remain as they have been with other parent receiving alternating weekends and some weeknight visitation (i.e. time-sharing). However, other situations exist where both parents have been around the children an equal amount of time, both feel they participate equally with the children and both feel they should have the children the majority of the time, that is when a custody or time-sharing battle may ensue.
In determining the time-sharing plan for the children, the first question is, “What is in the best interest of the children?” Courts, judges and lawyers all have differing views of this question since it is one of opinion more than law. However, the Florida legislature has established certain provisions that need to be met for a parent to qualify as the primary time-sharing parent. The Florida law on these matters includes looking at which parent is likely to promote a healthy relationship with the children and other parent; which parent is likely to foster a nurturing home for the children; etc.
These questions can be answered by the Judge, but often in cases involving a dispute, the judge may require the parents meet with a qualified individual to perform a parenting plan. A social investigation will include a trained and qualified professional to interview both parties and the children and to assess the situation and present a report to the parties and to the Court regarding the investigation.
Fighting for custody (i.e. time-sharing) does involve additional litigation and often additional evidence to be gathered. The process can become very expensive for both parties and you should speak with a lawyer about your divorce before proceeding so that you have a good idea of what to expect and to get a third party perspective of the situation before taking on such a fight.