If you have children, you have parental rights regardless of whether you were married or not at the time of birth. Your child custody attorney at Julie Beth Jouben, P.A. in Clearwater can help you assert your parental rightly legally and assist you with the nuances of creating a time-sharing plan that will work for you, the other parent, and for your children.
Establish Parental Rights with Your Child Custody Attorney
In certain situations, establishing rights regarding children in Clearwater is not limited solely to biological mothers and fathers. Often, extended family members are actively raising a child due to various life situations without any legal authority to do so. Perhaps one or more of the child’s biological parents passed away or are unable to care for the minor properly. Regardless, your child custody attorney can help other relatives or guardians gain legal authority to take care of a child residing with them. These individuals may be family members such as:
- Aunts and uncles
- Brothers and sisters
If you have a minor under your care, but you do not have legal rights as their parent or guardian, you are limited in your decision-making abilities. Establishing your rights as their legal guardian will allow you to make more of the choices that make a difference in the way the kids are raised. There are many different situations, and if you are not sure whether acquiring parenting rights is possible in your case, talk to your child custody attorney. We help you understand what your options are and develop the best plan of action.
What Does Child Custody Really Entail?
The phrase “child custody” is confusing and can be confrontational. Florida recognizes this fact and no longer uses the phrase. Instead, we create Parenting Plans which outline parental responsibility and time-sharing schedules.
Florida law encourages children to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents’ marriage or relationship has ended. Time-sharing is how and when the child spends time with each of the parents. Time-sharing schedules are family specific – what works for one family may not work for another. Time-sharing can be flexible, with the parents making changes on a daily or weekly basis, or they can be more precise, with a set schedule for the child to be with the parents on specific days. It is best to address holidays, birthdays, and school breaks in the Parenting Plan to avoid future conflicts.
Ideally, parents will be able to work together to craft a Parenting Plan that will work best for their children. If the parents are unable to agree, the Court will determine a time-sharing schedule for the family. In doing so, the Court will consider a long list of statutory factors, some of which include:
- The ability of each parent to meet the needs of the children;
- The ability of each parent to cooperate with the other parent;
- The ability of each parent to put the child’s needs ahead of his or her own needs;
- The nature of each parent’s relationship with the children;
- The physical and mental health of each parent;
- The age, physical and mental health of the children;
- The preference of the children;
- Any domestic violence or substance abuse issues;
The parent who spends the most time with the children does not automatically get to make all major decisions for them. Parental responsibility is how Florida law refers to the decision-making authority over the children. Generally, parents will have shared parental responsibility, meaning that they will have equal decision making authority for the major decisions in the children’s lives such as non-emergency medical, educational, and religious decisions for the children. If the Court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the children, then the Court can order that one parent have either sole decision making or ultimate decision making.
The health and safety of the children always come first. Your child custody attorney can help you to determine how your current situation will appear in the eyes of the judge. Together, we will devise an ideal strategy for you and your family in Clearwater.