Custody /
Time Sharing
More than 1 million children will experience divorce this year in the
United States.

Perhaps no other aspect of divorce generates as much tension and
anxiety as child custody.


Child Custody and Visitation (Now Time-Sharing
Arrangements)

Divorcing parents have much to consider with regards to their children.
Foremost in their minds is often child custody. Child custody and
visitation/parenting time can come in many forms.  Knowledgeable
advice and skilled representation from an experienced
Florida family law
attorney can assist you in your pursuit of a fair custody / time sharing
arrangement.

Custody Determination During the Divorce Process
Questions of custody usually first arise when a divorcing couple with
children decides to separate. While some couples immediately reach an
agreement on short- or long-term custody, others require court
intervention for the intermediate or final decision. Custody may be
addressed throughout the divorce process in the following ways:

Temporary Hearing: Shortly after the initial papers are filed seeking
dissolution of a marriage, the family court will hold a temporary hearing
and issue an order that controls legal aspects of the parties' relationship
until it grants the final divorce decree. When custody is contested, the
order creates a temporary custody solution. Unless there is evidence
that doing so would not be in the best interests of the child, temporary
custody is typically granted to the person who stays in the marital
home. Temporary custody orders should have no bearing on which
party will ultimately be awarded permanent custody. Depending on the
circumstances, however, the temporary custody order may indicate
which parent the court thinks is the more suitable.

Mandatory Mediation: Many states such as Florida now require that
parties in a contested divorce attempt mediation. Mediation is an
alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in which divorcing couples
work with a specially trained neutral third party in an attempt to resolve
their disagreements. Couples may resolve child custody while keeping
other issues like property division open for a judge to decide. Couples
who determine custody arrangements through mediation can include a
provision in their final divorce agreement making it mandatory to return
first to the mediation process to resolve future custody and visitation
disputes.

Custody Evaluation: If the parties are unable to reach an agreement
regarding custody, most courts will order a custody evaluation prior to
trial. A court-appointed mental health professional such as a
psychologist or a social worker usually does the custody evaluation. The
evaluation includes interviews with both parents and the children;
observation of the children; conversations with teachers; and possible
psychological testing of both parents and children. It can take four to
twelve weeks to conclude a custody evaluation. When a custody
evaluation has been ordered, the court usually will not enter a final
custody determination until the evaluation has been completed.

Trial: Every state has statutes and procedures for the legal resolution
of disputed child custody. While specific standards differ from state to
state, most courts decide contested custody cases based upon a
determination of what arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
Considerations that go into a best interest determination may include
review of the child's age and attachment to the parent who has been
the primary caretaker; parental physical and mental health; any history
of domestic violence; and the child's wishes, depending upon the age of
the child and the motivation for the preference.

Modification
Once a parenting plan has been established through agreement or court
order, parents may seek court involvement to modify the established
arrangement. To support a modification request, the parent seeking the
modification must show a substantial change in circumstances. If the
modification request is within two years of the original custody
determination, some states will only consider it if the child is endangered
by the custody arrangement. Additionally, states that follow the
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act will only consider requests for
modification if they occur in the state in which a child has an established
residence, in order to prevent forum shopping and custody-motivated
child removals.

The resolution of time sharing and visitation disputes requires divorcing
parents to act rationally in their child's best interests at a time when
they are facing the overwhelming stress of divorce. Early involvement by
a
Florida family law attorney with knowledge and experience in child
custody law can help.
Florida Family Law Attorneys
Copyright 2010 Florida Family Law Attorneys. All rights reserved. ph: 386-503-3803

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