One of the most complicated areas in a divorce proceeding is dividing the couple’s assets and liabilities – what the Court calls “Equitable Distribution.”
In this post we will explore how custody decisions are actually made in Florida and whether your child’s opinion will give weight to the outcome.
Child custody is a topic that can trigger a great deal of stress in parents. Many parents think of custody orders as laws that will limit their access to their children, and it can be incredibly scary and frustrating to think that this process could limit or remove your ability to see a child that you helped create or parent.
It is important to understand that you and your co-parent have the first opportunity to determine your custody plan. You can decide amongst yourselves, or through negotiations with the help of a lawyer or lawyers.
No one really likes to pay bills — child support included — but providing financial support to your child is a legal obligation that starts the moment you are legally recognized as a parent and continues until the child reaches the age of 18. Child support petitions can be filed as part of a divorce, paternity proceeding, or when the parents live separately but do not have a divorce petition pending.
Child dependency cases are filed when the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) believes a parent is unfit to care for their child based on allegations that a parent engages in behavior that puts a child’s welfare at risk, or when a parent voluntarily surrenders a child for later adoption.
If you are an expectant father, you may assume that when you have a biological child with someone, you are automatically entitled to equal parental rights. However, in Florida, unless you are married at the time of the child’s birth, that is not the case.
Custody agreements can seem daunting. After all, they are ordered by a court, usually following a long legal process. It is easy to understand why people tend to believe they are set in stone. However, while you cannot deviate from the written terms of the agreement, it is possible to modify them.
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by a Florida court to investigate and evaluate family disputes to help protect a child’s best interests. Florida GALs act on behalf of the child and are considered “next friend of the child.”
With the many changes in family dynamics over the years, a recurring issue for Florida families is the right of grandparents to have timesharing with their grandchildren.