Practice Area: Family Law/Child Custody

Child Custody Lawyers
in Jacksonville, FL

Sharing child custody and support is complicated. We’ll carry the burden.

Child custody is the term used to describe guardianship a parent or guardian has of a minor child. The one with legal custody has the legal right to make decisions about the child while the one with physical custody has the right and duty to provide care and shelter for the child
Few issues in family law are more contentious than those which surround money or children. In the case of child support, both of these issues are involved. Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes address the issues of child support and visitation rights.

Florida courts no longer favor the mother in child custody determinations, and have, in recent years, been in support of relatively equal time-sharing between parents. This is important because the child support determination is based in part on the amount of parenting time or overnight stays with each parent.

It’s important to know the differences in child custody.

Sole custody -

Gives one parent sole legal right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, schooling, medical care, religion - every decision to be made for the child is made by one person. Sole custody does not negate the duty that parent had to keep the non-custodial parent informed of all decisions regarding the child.

Joint custody, or shared custody,

Is given to two parents who can communicate and work together, making decisions together for their children. The courts will often name one parent the primary joint custodian to make a final decision if an agreement can’t be reached. The courts intention in this type of custody is for children to spend equal time with each parent. It’s important to note that there may still be some sort of child support that must be paid despite joint custody status. Unless both parents make exactly the same amount of income and pay the exact same amount in expenses on behalf of the child, one parent will inevitably owe the other.

Split custody

Is for parents living in different states. One parent may be given custody during the school year while the other parent gets the child during breaks. Split custody can also refer to splitting siblings. Some live full time with one parent, while others live full time with the other. That type of split custody is rare, however. The courts generally prefer to keep siblings together for support and mutual comfort. Splitting siblings is more common if siblings don’t get along, or if one parent was a step parent.

The courts use child support guidelines to provide a consistent method in determining child support obligations. These guidelines allow the courts to focus on the following when trying to figure out how much support is adequate:

Net monthly income of each parent

The number of children who are the subject of the pending action

The amount of daycare paid by each parent

The monthly cost of medical, dental and vision insurance paid by each parent and co-pays

Additional support payments made to other children

Percentage of overnight stays of the child or children with each parent

The court, nevertheless, is always free to deviate from the child support guidelines and order support which is appropriate. If the court deviates from the child support guidelines, the judge must specifically state his/her reasons for the deviation in writing.

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