Child Custody FAQs

Family Attorney Serving West Palm Beach Parents in Divorce Proceedings

Florida courts prefer that parents reach time-sharing agreements that are in the best interest of the child. This usually means that parents would be jointly responsible for caring for and spending time with their child. If parents are unable to agree on time-sharing arrangements, a court will consider various factors under Florida statutes to determine what kind of custody is in the best interest of the child. If you are trying to work out a child custody plan in West Palm Beach, an experienced family lawyer can help you negotiate and determine what is best for your child. My name is William Wallshein, and I will spare no effort in helping you continue to play a role in your child’s life.

What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

Physical custody refers to where a child will live. Legal custody refers to which parent has primary decision-making power, including determinations regarding a child’s medical care, religion, discipline, and education. Parents can have either shared or sole custody of their children. Courts prefer shared custody arrangements, meaning both parents split time and responsibilities with their children. Sole custody is granted in the rare cases when it would be in the child’s best interest.

What is a parenting plan?

Parenting plans are legally binding documents that describe the responsibilities and rights of each parent. They must state how parents will divide duties for daily tasks, as well as who is in charge of making important decisions regarding their children. These plans also contain a time-sharing schedule detailing which holidays, school breaks, and overnight stays will be spent with each parent.

Who pays child support when parents share custody?

Both parents are responsible for child support, even when custody is shared. A court calculates the amount of support that each parent must provide by using statutory guidelines that take into consideration how many children the parents have, the earning capacity of both parents, healthcare and daycare costs for the children, and how many overnights the children spend with each parent.

Is visitation affected if one parent fails to pay child support?

Child support and custody, or time-sharing, are separated from each other in Florida courts, except when it comes to calculations. Courts have other methods to enforce child support orders separate from visitation and custody. If a parent fails to pay child support, a court may choose to suspend his or her driver’s license or place a lien on his or her property, but it will not take away visitation rights.

Can my child choose who he or she wants to live with?

Courts take various statutory factors into consideration when determining who should get custody. One such factor is a child’s reasonable preference, if the child is deemed to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.

Do any other relatives have custody rights?

Under Florida law, certain parents who are members of the military may designate a family member, including grandparents, stepparents, or a relative by marriage, to fulfill their custody responsibilities on their behalf. Grandparents generally do not have visitation or custody rights, however, since these are not viewed as essential to the best interest of the child. They may have rights in some limited circumstances.

Can a child custody agreement be changed?

If either parent experiences a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances after a parenting plan goes into effect, the parent can ask the court to modify the plan. Such circumstances include a loss of job or the onset of a disability. Modifications may be made only if they are found to be in the best interest of the child.

Consult a Dedicated Palm Beach Gardens Divorce Lawyer

I am William Wallshein, a divorce attorney with over 30 years of experience practicing law, and over 25 years of that time has been spent assisting Palm Beach Gardens parents with child custody agreements and other family law matters. I work tirelessly to make sure parents understand the legal process and find the right solution for their family. I help clients throughout Palm Beach, Martin, and Broward Counties, as well as elsewhere in South Florida. Please call my office at 561-533-1221 to schedule a free initial consultation, or contact me online. We take credit cards.