Child Custody Lawyer in Palm Coast, FL

child custody

If you divorce or separate from your child’s other parent, you will face some tough and emotional issues, including making a child custody arrangement. If the separation is contentious, reaching a workable child custody arrangement can be difficult. The court will make decisions about child custody based on the best interests of the child. You should seek experienced legal guidance.

At Chiumento Law, PLLC, our Palm Coast child custody attorneys have been helping local families in Flagler and Volusia counties since 1973. During that time, we have handled many child custody matters. If you need help negotiating child custody and parenting responsibilities, call us at (386) 445-8900 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your child custody issue.

Why Choose Chiumento Law, PLLC, to Deal with Your Child Custody Issues?

When you’re in the midst of a child custody case, the emotional stress and legal complexities can feel overwhelming. You need an experienced and compassionate family lawyer to help you work through these issues. You need the trusted guidance of Chiumento Law, PLLC.

Our Palm Coast family law attorneys can explain your legal options and offer sound advice every step of the way. With our decades of experience, we will work toward the best outcome possible while minimizing the traumatic effect of the divorce process on you and your child.

At Chiumento Law, PLLC, our primary goal is to protect you and your child’s best interests.

How Do I Get Full Custody?

The court may award joint custody to both parents or full custody to one parent. Full custody is called sole parental responsibility in Florida.

When one parent has sole parental responsibility, he or she has the right to make all parenting decisions for their child without the other parent’s input. This includes decisions about education, medical treatment, religious training, and discipline.

Sole parental responsibility arrangements are rare in Florida. Courts operate under the assumption that having frequent contact with both parents is in a child’s best interest. Judges only order sole parental responsibility in cases when shared parental responsibility would be harmful to the child. Florida law does not favor mothers over fathers or vice versa when it comes to parental responsibility. Instead, the judge’s focus will always be on the child’s best interest.

If you seek sole parental responsibility in Florida, you must meet specific requirements and provide substantial evidence to support your petition. The court will likely need evidence of domestic abuse, child abuse, neglect, or abandonment before ordering sole parental responsibility.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan or custody arrangement is a legal document that describes each parent’s rights and duties regarding parental responsibilities and time-sharing.

When you create a parenting plan, you may need to settle on a parenting time or time-sharing arrangement. Many parents with joint custody arrangements have roughly equal rights to time-sharing in Florida. In some cases, judges might award one parent more time-sharing rights than the other. If a judge sees evidence of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, or abandonment, they might revoke time-sharing rights or order supervised visitation for the child’s safety.

Your parenting plan should also include a proposal for parental responsibility, which describes each parent’s right to make major decisions in their child’s life, such as medical, religious, educational, and legal decisions. As with parenting time, Florida courts favor shared parental responsibility. But even when parents have roughly equal time-sharing, one parent is usually named the custodial parent, who has the right to make final decisions for the child even when the noncustodial parent disagrees.

If you and your child’s other parent agree on a time-sharing and parental responsibility arrangement, you can prepare a single parenting plan and submit it to the court. You might need help from a mediator to reach an agreement. When the court considers your parenting plan, it will look for the following:

  • A specific plan for shared responsibility of daily parenting duties
  • A time-sharing schedule for custody and visitation with each parent
  • A legal address for the child’s school registration and other activities
  • A plan outlining how you will communicate with each other about your child
  • The name of the custodial parent

Common Types of Parental Responsibility (Child Custody) in Florida

There are five key types of parental responsibility in Florida, which include:

  • Shared parental responsibility – In this type of arrangement, parents share the right to make major decisions for their children. In some cases, the court might grant one parent more decision-making power.
  • Sole parental responsibility – In this type of arrangement, one parent receives sole legal custody, either because the parents agree to it or because the child’s safety is at risk with the other parent.
  • Equal time-sharing rights – In this type of arrangement, each parent has the right to spend approximately 50 percent of the time with their child.
  • Majority-minority time-sharing rights – In this type of arrangement, one parent has the right to spend more time with the child.
  • Sole time-sharing rights – This type of arrangement, which gives one parent the sole right to spend time with their child, is uncommon. Notably, this arrangement does not relieve the other parent of their responsibility to pay child support.

What Are the Factors Considered in Shared Parenting in Florida?

When judges decide whether to approve a shared custody order, they typically look at the following factors with regard to how they will affect the child:

  • Each parent’s willingness to encourage a parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s basic needs
  • The physical and mental health of each parent
  • The moral fitness of each parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a consistent routine
  • The geographical practicality of the custody plan if the parents live in separate cities
  • How will the child adjust to different homes or communities
  • The child’s preferences, if they are mature enough
  • The child’s age, abilities, and developmental needs
  • Other relevant factors, such as evidence of domestic violence

What Is the Age Group Most Affected by Child Custody Agreements?

Children of all ages are affected by divorce, separation, and custody arrangements to some degree. However, children of different age groups have different needs. It’s important to develop custody agreements accordingly. For instance:

  • Infants less than 12 months are more demanding of their parents and require consistent schedules to maintain a sense of stability. Children of this age are usually better off living with one parent and having frequent visits with the other.
  • Toddlers between one and three can handle changes more easily, so overnight stays with noncustodial parents are possible at this stage. It’s still important to keep toddlers on consistent schedules to avoid emotional upset.
  • Children between four and 11 have busier schedules, so their custody arrangements usually need more flexibility for normal childhood events like school trips, extracurriculars, and play dates.
  • Teens between 12 and 17 usually keep the same custody arrangements they have when they are children. But some teens crave more flexibility and freedom and might ask for new living situations that provide greater independence.

How Do Florida Courts Determine Custody and Modifications Later?

The purpose of creating a parenting plan is to provide children with a sense of stability and routine. However, children’s needs inevitably change over time, so judges might approve modifications to the parenting plan or time-sharing orders when:

  • The child’s safety is at risk
  • One parent refuses to follow the current order
  • One parent is morally unfit
  • One parent is relocating to a new area
  • One parent receives a criminal conviction
  • The child’s needs change significantly
  • One parent gets a substantially different job

The Rights of Grandparents or Relatives in Child Custody

Grandparents play an important role in children’s lives and generally have the right to visitation. However, grandparent visitation is usually not an issue unless a parent refuses to allow visits. In that case, the court gives special weight to the parent’s preferences. If a parent cuts off a grandparent or relative from a child, the court will only grant visitation rights if:

  • The parent no longer has custody of the child, and
  • The requested visitation is in the child’s best interest

Grandparents and other relatives only receive custody rights in rare circumstances when such an order is in the child’s best interest because:

  • The court has deemed their parent unfit
  • The parent poses a danger to the child

Schedule a Consultation with Our Experienced Palm Coast Beach Child Custody Attorneys

If you need an experienced Palm Coast child custody lawyer, look no further than Chiumento Law, PLLC. Give us a call at (386) 445-8900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our family lawyers.

We’re Proud to be Involved in the Community

Chiumento Law, PLLC has contributed to schools and other organizations that have made a difference in the community and take pride in portraying an active role in our community. Flagler and Volusia Counties hosts an array of events and we are proud to be a part of many of them!

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