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Child Custody & Visitation

Our child custody lawyers will fight for you.

Nothing Is More Important

At Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa, we understand that the best interest of your children is the utmost concern. Our family law attorneys offer aggressive representation in pursuit of your goals, striving for the best outcome with the least impact on your children.

About Parental Responsibility & Child Custody

Florida law provides three types of arrangements relating to parental responsibility and child custody:

  • Shared Parental Responsibility: This custody arrangement requires both parents to confer and discuss all major decisions affecting the best interests and welfare of the children.
  • Sole Parental Responsibility: This custody arrangement applies when shared parental responsibility is deemed to be detrimental to the children and provides for one parent to solely make decisions affecting the best interests and welfare of the children.
  • Ultimate Decision-Making Responsibility: This arrangement requires the parents to confer and discuss major decisions but provides that one of them will have the right to decide specific matters (such as medical decisions or educational decisions or some other decisions unique to the child or family) in the event of a conflict between the parties.

There is a presumption that both parents are entitled to enjoy the rights and responsibilities of raising their children and the court is required to establish a Parenting Plan which determines not only custody rights, but also time-sharing rights and the division of parental rights and responsibilities. However, a Parenting Plan and time-sharing schedule does not necessarily mean a 50/50 division of parenting time and decision-making. For example, one parent could get 70 percent of the time-sharing, and the other parent visitation for the remainder. Each case is determined based on the particular facts and circumstances of the family.

Aggressive Protection of Your Interests

As your attorneys, we will fight to make the case that you are better suited to have the children reside with you a greater percentage of the time, or if this is not possible, we will advocate to maximize your time-sharing rights. In all child custody cases, we build a compelling argument on your behalf based on an analysis of the applicable law which is primarily based on a determination of the best interests of the children. Determination of the best interests of the children shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to:

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
  • The moral fitness of the parents.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

We believe it is in everyone’s best interests to come to an agreement without resorting to custody litigation. However, if you are adamant or the other party unyielding, we will vigorously defend your interests in a custody trial, where a judge will make a final determination.

Child Time-Sharing (Visitation) Rights

The parent with whom the children are not primarily residing is entitled to time-sharing (visitation), subject to terms negotiated by the parties or set by the court. Our attorneys will work diligently to earn you the greatest amount of visitation time with the least restrictions as possible or, in applicable situations, to establish appropriate restrictions on the other parent’s rights.

Grandparent visitation rights can be difficult to secure under Florida law. The court will consider several factors, including whether you had on-going relationship with the child and if it is in the child’s best interests to maintain regular contact.

  • Reasonable Visitation: The parties agree to open; non-specified time-sharing that is not delineated by a specific schedule.
  • Fixed Visitation: Times and places are negotiated in detail by the parents or the court orders times and places for child visitation.
  • Supervised Visitation: An adult supervisor must be present during visitation.

Grandparent visitation rights can be difficult to secure under Florida law. The court will consider several factors, including whether you had on-going relationship with the child and if it is in the child’s best interests to maintain regular contact.

Modifying Child Custody

After divorce, circumstances and the needs of the child may change. We will vigorously press your case in a modification hearing that may be appropriate due to a substantial change in circumstances that is deemed to be in the best interests of the child such as:

  • You desire more equal parenting time.
  • An older child expresses a wish to live with you.
  • You want sole custody or greater time-sharing because the other parent’s behavior is a danger to your child’s well-being (e.g., drug use, abusive boyfriend or girlfriend, dropping school grades).
  • You wish to relocate out of Florida with your child.
  • You are challenging the custodial parent’s relocation petition.

Speak with one of our experienced attorneys to help you resolve your family law issues and transition into the next stage of your life.