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Child Custody

Orange Park Child Custody Lawyer

Protecting Your Parental Rights with Dedicated Custody Attorneys

Few legal disputes are as emotionally charged as child custody matters. When parents separate or divorce, determining custody can be highly contentious. We understand the complexities involved and offer experienced Orange Park child custody attorneys who will fight for your rights as a parent.

With over 20 years of experience in Florida family law, Owenby Law, P.A. has the necessary expertise to ensure a favorable outcome in your child custody dispute.

Contact us today at (904) 770-3141 or reach out to Owenby Law online to discuss your case.

What is Child Custody?

In Florida, child custody refers to the legal rights and responsibilities that parents have concerning their children after a divorce or separation. Floride uses the term "time-sharing" to describe the arrangements for how parents will share time with their children.

There are two main types of child custody:

  • Legal custody: This involves the right to make decisions about the child's upbringing, including decisions about education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Legal custody can be awarded solely to one parent (sole legal custody) or shared between both parents (joint legal custody).
  • Physical custody: This refers to where the child lives on a day-to-day basis. Physical custody can also be sole (the child primarily resides with one parent) or joint (the child spends substantial time with both parents).

Parents are required to create a parenting plan, which outlines how they will share responsibility for raising their children after the divorce or separation. This plan includes details such as the schedule for when the child will spend time with each parent, how major decisions regarding the child's upbringing will be made, and how the parents will communicate about the child's welfare.

A time-sharing schedule specifies the days and times when the child will spend with each parent. It can be highly flexible, depending on the needs and circumstances of the family. Florida courts encourage parents to develop a time-sharing schedule that prioritizes the best interests of the child and allows both parents to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.

In making decisions about child custody/time-sharing, Florida courts prioritize the best interests of the child above all else. Factors considered include:

  • The child's age and preference (if mature enough to express one).
  • Each parent's ability to provide for the child's health and safety.
  • Maintaining stability in the child's education and living arrangements.
  • The pre-divorce relationship between each parent and the child.
  • Each parent's living situation and capacity to support the child.
  • Willingness of each parent to communicate and co-parent effectively

At Owenby Law, P.A., our child custody attorneys in Orange Park, FL are skilled at assisting parents in creating parenting plans that align with the family court's requirements.

Shared Custody as Preferred Option

In Florida, shared custody is generally favored by the courts, recognizing that most parents seeking shared custody have the child's best interests at heart. However, we acknowledge that some parents may try to deny access to the other parent due to concerns about their influence being detrimental to the child. Unless there are compelling reasons such as addiction, abusive behavior, or criminal activity, Florida judges will usually enforce an arrangement that grants both parents access to the child.

Determining the Right Parenting Plan

Parenting plans form the foundation for child custody arrangements, outlining time-sharing schedules and communication guidelines between parents. They can be categorized as traditional vs. safety-focused and standard vs. long-distance.

To determine the appropriate parenting plan for your situation, consider the following:

  1. Do you and the other parent live far apart?
  2. Has the other parent exhibited violence towards you or the children?
  3. Has the other parent engaged in destructive behavior or harmed someone in anger?
  4. Has the other parent experienced extreme emotional distress that impairs their ability to care for themselves?
  5. Does the other parent have a history of substance abuse?
  6. Has the other parent used violence or weapons to threaten or harm others?
  7. Has the other parent threatened to withhold the children?
  8. Has the other parent been subject to a domestic violence injunction or no-contact order?
  9. Has the other parent been previously arrested for harming someone else?

If you answer "yes" to question 1, a long-distance parenting plan may be suitable. If you answer "yes" to any questions 2 to 9, a safety-focused parenting plan may be necessary.

At Owenby Law, P.A., our Orange Park child custody lawyers can provide detailed guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. We take into account your concerns, the quality of family relationships, and your children's individual needs when developing a comprehensive parenting plan.

How To Obtain a Child Custody Order in Florida

Obtaining a child custody order in Florida typically involves the following process:

  1. Filing a Petition: The process usually begins with one parent filing a petition for child custody with the family court in the county where the child resides. This petition outlines the parent's request for custody, including details such as proposed time-sharing arrangements and parental responsibility.
  2. Serving the Other Parent: After filing the petition, the petitioner (the parent who initiated the case) must serve the other parent with a copy of the petition and a summons, informing them of the legal proceedings and their right to respond.
  3. Mediation: Parents are generally required to attend mediation before going to court. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps parents work together to reach agreements on issues such as time-sharing and parental responsibility. If parents reach an agreement through mediation, it can be submitted to the court for approval.
  4. Court Proceedings: If parents are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, the case will proceed to court. Both parents will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments regarding custody and time-sharing arrangements. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making decisions.
  5. Parenting Plan: Florida law requires parents to develop a parenting plan, either together or separately, which outlines how they will share time with their child and make decisions about the child's upbringing. If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will establish one based on the evidence presented.
  6. Court Order: After considering the evidence and the best interests of the child, the court will issue a child custody order, detailing the time-sharing schedule and parental responsibility arrangements. This order is legally binding and must be followed by both parents.
  7. Enforcement and Modification: Once a child custody order is in place, both parents are obligated to follow its terms. If one parent violates the order, the other parent can seek enforcement through the court. Additionally, either parent can request a modification of the custody order if circumstances change significantly, such as a parent's relocation or a change in the child's needs.

Crafting a Child Custody Agreement with Our Help

In Orange Park, child custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child, an approach we fully endorse. Joy Owenby, our lead attorney, has extensive experience representing children's rights through her involvement with the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program. This background allows us to navigate complex family law cases, dependency allegations, and criminal law matters with sensitivity to the unique needs of the children involved.

If you require assistance with drafting a child custody agreement, contact Owenby Law, P.A. today at (904) 770-3141 to schedule a consultation with our experienced attorneys.

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