On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
Heading to court to slug out a divorce settlement is not the romantic future you had in mind when you got married. Unfortunately, divorce is a common end to many marriages in Florida. While many aspects of a divorce can become emotional, fighting for custody of the children tops them all.
If you and your spouse are unable or unwilling to work out a child custody agreement outside of court, it will be necessary to let a judge decide what happens to the kids. Should a court date seem inevitable, it would be wise to go in understanding what may transpire.
Pursue The Custody Arrangement Best Suited to Your Situation
There are two kinds of custody arrangements available to parents who are no longer together: joint and sole. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents will make key decisions together about the child’s upbringing. This may include important choices about health, education, and religion. Most often, the child will reside primarily with one parent, but the other parent generally has frequent access.
An award of sole custody is less common but is an option in certain situations. In this arrangement, one parent has physical custody and makes all decisions about the child’s welfare without input from the other. Access for the other parent is often restricted and limited under a sole custody arrangement.
Courtroom Considerations During A Custody Hearing
Once a custody dispute has gone to court, it will be up to each parent to persuade the judge to see things his or her way. The judge will consider many factors when deciding an award of custody including, but not limited to:
- Which parent is most likely to promote contact between the child and the other parent
- Which parent seems most able to offer a stable and nurturing home life
- Which parent is best equipped to meet the emotional, physical, educational, and developmental needs of the child
- If there is any history of substance abuse or a criminal background
At all times, the judge will seek to accommodate the best interests of the child. If there are any safety concerns, these will of course factor heavily into the decision.
Go to Court Prepared And With Support
It is possible that by the time you’ve arrived at a place in life where divorce is the only option, you’ve had your share of conflict. The fight for custody of your children, however, maybe the most critical confrontation you’ll ever have.
This isn’t a fight you want to take on without being fully prepared for what may come. Part of that preparation might include working with a dedicated attorney. A skilled lawyer’s understanding of Florida family law might make the difference between your children living with you or your children visiting you.