We understand that nothing can be more cherished than your children and that the most critical part of a divorce with children is preserving each parents’ relationship with the children and establishing times and schedules that foster those relationships and facilitate a positive impact on the children.
Covering St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach, the Seventh Judicial Circuit has adopted Timesharing Schedules/Guidelines as the basic framework for child custody. While deviations can be made, these guidelines are important to know so you can have an solid initial understanding of the Court’s general outlook on divorce cases involving children.
SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CHILDREN
It is the public policy of Florida to ensure each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or divorced and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing. The court gives both parties the same consideration in determining parental responsibility and time-sharing, regardless of the child’s age or gender.
In most cases, parental responsibility for a minor child will be shared by both parents so that each retains full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. Shared parenting requires both parents to confer so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly. You and your spouse may agree, or the court may order, that one parent have the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare, such as education, religion, or medical and dental needs. The court will determine any or all of these matters if the parties cannot agree.
In very rare cases, the court can order sole parental responsibility to one parent. To do so, the court must determine that shared parental responsibility would cause harm to the child.
In determining parental responsibility, the court will approve or devise its own a parenting plan that includes responsibility for the daily tasks of child rearing, the time-sharing schedule, and decision-making authority relating to health care, school, and related activities. The plan will also specify any technology that will be used for parent-child communication. The parents may agree on a parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval or the court will determine these issues. The statute includes a list of factors for the court to consider in making these decisions.
The courts use the Best Interests of the Child Standard when considering parental issues.
Florida law requires both parties to attend a parenting course prior to entering a final divorce. Some courts require children of parents going through divorce to attend a class specifically designed for them.