Florida Child Visitation Laws
When it comes to the issue of child visitations in Florida, we know that our state's legal code gives men and women the same visitation rights. The bottom line is that Florida law no longer distinguishes one parent as the custodial parent and the other as the visiting parent. This archaic terminology and custody structure has been replaced by Parenting Plans in which both parents are given equal right to time with the child. Only when circumstances don’t allow for equal time, or there is reason to restrict a parent’s time with their child, does one parent spend more time with the child than the other.
How Courts Decide Child Visitation
Florida legal code dictates that judges, when approving or creating a parenting plan for a divorcing couple, must consider the child’s best interest above all other considerations. However, there are no rules for deciding what is in the best interest of the child, so determining that is left to each judge’s discretion.
If a divorcing couple can agree on a parenting plan and the presiding judge rules that it does not interfere with the child’s best interests, it is likely to be approved. But if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, then a judge must create one for them. The law assumes that father and mother have equal rights to time with their child and if one parent wants more time, or believes the other parent should have less time with the child, that parent must prove to the court that there is good cause and that it is in the child’s best interest to award unequal parenting time.
When approving or creating a parenting plan, a judge will consider and balance many factors. Some of those factors are:
- Safety of the children
- Education of the children
- Potential stress of the visitation schedule on the children
- Behavior (including abuse of spouse or child) & attitudes of parents
- Value of visitation with the non-custodial parent to the children
- Travel distance required for visitation
- Psychological impact of visitation on the children
As your child visitation rights lawyers we will be familiar with how your judge thinks and which factors they are likely to give more importance.