How Do I Start A Child Custody Case

For a parent going through a divorce, one of the key issues and burning questions may be whether your child primarily lives with you. Is it the kid’s choice? What amount of control will the other parent have over important decisions? All of these questions and more come to mind when you’re considering petitioning for child custody. If both parents cannot agree to a plan, then the courts will help determine what’s in the best interest of the child. Today, Family Law Attorney Christina Anton Garcia answers, “how do I start a child custody case?”.

Florida courts generally order that both parents share custody of the child unless one parent is able to prove that it would be detrimental to the child for the other parent to have time-sharing rights. Florida child custody laws favor a child’s frequent and continuing contact with both parents, and that both parents could share the rights and responsibilities of raising their child.

Divorce & Child Custody

If the parents are divorcing, Florida law presently requires that both parents take a parenting course before the divorce is finalized. The parents will need to determine with whom the children will live and how the other parent will visit with the children. Also, they will need to determine who will have the responsibility of making important education and health care decisions regarding the child. Oftentimes, parents can work out a mutually agreeable solution, known as a “parenting plan,” for the custody of the children.

If parents cannot reach an agreement on child custody themselves, a Florida family court can decide based on evaluating what is in the best interests of the child. Ultimately, the court will issue a custody order, which dictates how, when and under what circumstances the parents of the child have custody or visitation rights.

Other Child Custody Cases

It’s important to note: child custody issues are not only raised during a divorce proceeding. It may be that a relative or family friend of a child wishes to gain custody over a child for various reasons.

Regardless of who is seeking custody, however, a court will always evaluate the circumstances in terms of what is in the best interests of the child.

Parents can work out a mutually agreeable solution, known as a “parenting plan,” for the custody of the children. If parents cannot reach an agreement on child custody themselves, a Florida family court can decide based on evaluating what is in the best interests of the child.

Factors to Consider for Custody Petitions

If a parent has already started their divorce proceeding, the custody of their child will be determined during such proceeding. If a parent remains married and not yet divorced, they would file a petition for child custody in the circuit court where the child lives.

Fathers: you may need to determine/prove paternity prior to filing a petition for child custody. The court may order DNA testing.

If a parent is in a situation of domestic violence, they may file for temporary custody of the child in order to ensure that the child is not harmed.

Petitioning for Custody in Florida

Florida’s child custody laws can be complex; our experienced team of attorneys can help. Contact a Tampa, Florida child custody lawyer if you have additional questions on petitioning for custody.