Child custody agreements can be difficult to negotiate and can be emotional for all involved, especially when the custody agreements are negotiated following a divorce or separation. Child custody agreements may determine who the custodial parent is for both tax and residential purposes, and may outline visitation rights for the non-custodial parent. Child custody arrangements may also be negotiated for guardians that are not parents, such as grandparents or other family members that provide primary care for children.
Florida Child Custody Laws
Child custody laws may vary greatly from state to state. To prevent parents from “forum shopping,” a practice that involves moving to a state with more favorable child custody laws, most states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act dictates that child custody will be determined based on the laws in the home state in which the child has resided for at least six months prior to a custody hearing. If the child has not resided in any state for six months, the state to which the child has the most significant connections will be identified as the home state. If a child has significant connections to more than one state, the states must communicate and determine which state’s laws will be used to determine custody arrangements.
Types of Custody
Courts try to act in the best interests of the child when determining custody and visitation rights. In most cases, courts will try to provide an arrangement which allows both parents to have a relationship with the child. The custody arrangement that best suits both the child and the parents may vary according to factors such as distance between the parents’ residences, work and school schedules, and medical needs.
There are two kinds of joint custody, joint physical custody and joint legal custody. If parents have joint legal custody, both parents can access medical records, education records, and can make decisions for the child. However, the child typically resides primarily at one residence. If parents share joint physical custody, both parents are presumed to provide equal care for the child and the child resides at each parent’s residence according to a schedule that is determined and agreed upon. If a schedule is not put in place, joint custody agreements typically state that both parents should have the opportunity to maintain frequent and continuous contact with the child.
In sole custody, the child resides with one parent, and that parent has all of the decision-making rights. The parent that the child resides with is the custodial parent and the parent that the child does not reside with is the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may have visitation rights, but visitations are often on a more limited basis than with joint custody.
Other Custody Arrangements
Sole custody and joint custody are the most common types of custody arrangements, but other custody arrangements may work better for parents that live far away from one another or have unconventional job schedules. In shared custody, the child will reside with one parent for an extended amount of time, then with the other parent for an equal or similar amount of time and both parents will retain equal decision making authority. In alternating or divided custody, the residential agreement is similar to shared custody, but the decision making authority is awarded to the parent with which the child resides at the time. In bird’s nest custody, the children will stay in place in one residence and the parents will alternate living with the child. In third party custody, the child resides with a third party and neither parent has custody.
Custody and Child Support
While custody and child support are typically determined at the same time, child support may be determined independently of custody. In many cases, the parent with whom the child resides primarily will receive child support from the other parent. If custody is shared equally, child support may not be awarded to either parent.
Orlando Child Custody Lawyers
Child custody lawyers may be helpful when determining custody arrangements. Child custody lawyers understand the complex and varying laws surrounding child custody, and will work to achieve the custody arrangement that is most beneficial for the child. Child custody lawyers may also provide advice and assistance for parents that are having a difficult time negotiating custody arrangements.
“Child Custody.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web. 10 June 2014.
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“Custody & Parenting Time (Visitation).” California Courts. Judicial Counsel of California, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 June 2014.
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“Custody.” WomensLaw.org. National Network to End Domestic Violence, n.d. Web. 10 Jun 2014.
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