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Child custody: Many options exist. all must achieve 1 goal

One of the hardest choices divorcing parents face is how to structure child custody. Those experienced in family law know that there are many ways to set things up. Having options is usually a good thing, but having too many can be just frustrating.  Whatever elements wind up being part of a final plan, Florida law has one clear objective -- serving the best interest of the child.

The presumption in law is that the ideal is to foster positive relationships between children and both parents. However, finding terms that meet everyone's expectations can be complicated. In most instances, each parent has a right to state their desire. Each child deemed capable of expressing a preference by the court has a say, too.

Exploring options

 

It may be helpful for readers to know that in Florida, the concept of child custody is cast in a different context. Common terms, such as sole or joint custody become sole or joint parental responsibility. The word change is intended to emphasize that each parent has not just rights, but duties to fulfill regarding their children.

 

That said, there are several parenting elements to consider. These include:

 

Legal Custody: This component of a parenting plan establishes how the parents will make decisions about a child's education, health care and key decisions such as religious upbringing. Very often, both parents will be granted equal legal custody of a child. Of course, this requires the parents to work together cooperatively.

 

Physical Custody: Terms in this regard deal with decisions about where a child will live. If a child lives mainly with one parent, that is typically called sole physical custody. An example might be if the child lives with one parent and sees the other only for a few hours at a time. If the time with each parent is split close to evenly, that is considered joint physical custody.

 

A newer concept in co-parenting arrangements is called bird nesting. This involves the children remaining in one home and the parents rotating in on set times. This model gets high marks from many experts because it's least disruptive for the children, but it takes special commitment from the parents to pull it off.

 

Ultimately, to be confident that a plan will pass court muster, it's best to work with skilled counsel.

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