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Winning Child Custody in a Florida Divorce or Paternity Case

There was a time in history when the mother of a young child had an absolute right to be the full-time, custodial parent of the child. The father would see the child now and then and would pay child support. The mother made all the decisions regarding the child.

Then times changed and the mother no longer was considered to be the presumed custodial parent. The Florida legislature created the umbrella of "Shared Parental Responsibility" which covers all child custody matters. Under that umbrella, there is no presumption in favor of moms and the parents jointly make the major decisions regarding the child (Who will the pediatrician be? Where will the child go to school?, etc.). Also under that umbrella, one parent would be named the "Primary Residential Parent" and the other would be the "Secondary Residential Parent. "On rare occasions, there would be an order by the court naming them "Joint Primary Residential Parents", but it was very rare.

Times changed again very recently. Now we still have "Shared Parental Responsibility." There, however, are no longer designations of "Primary Residential Parent" and "Secondary Residential Parent." Today, we merely have a "Parenting Plan" or "Timesharing Plan" in each Florida child custody case which has either been worked out by the parents or ordered by the judge. No one gets to leave the courthouse and brag to friends about being named the "Primary Residential Parent" while the other parent leaves with a title that says that parent is second best. The idea was that the parents will work together better for the benefit of the child if the divisive titles were removed.

Bottom Line: Talk to your expert Florida divorce lawyer about the standards for determining what should be in a Florida divorce timesharing plan.

(copyright Stann Givens 2009)


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When the Florida court decides on the issue of child custody and visitation, the gender of the parents is not considered. For example, a mother will not automatically receive custody of the children just because she is the mother. The judge must only consider what is in the best interests of the child. Florida divorce law requires Shared Parental Responsibility. This means that even though the child may live with one parent, the other parent has equal say in raising the child. Each party must be consulted on the education, health, religion, and discipline of the child. And, if the parties cannot agree on these important issues, the judge will make the decisions.
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