Rules of Deciding Child Custody

Child Custody Lawyer

Over the past few decades, the concept of and understanding surrounding parenting time has changed drastically. In the past, it was assumed that above all, the more a parent spends time with his/her child, the more significant benefits the child(ren) receive as a result. The logic is only half true, however, studies show that face-to-face parenting time is extremely important, but quality over quantity is more positively impactful.

In other words, there is a possibility that too much time with a child, if it is not quality time, or is when the parent is stressed, angry, anxious, or short tempered, will actually negatively impact the child than if the parent were to spend less time with the child, but in a positive manner, such as teaching the child a new skill or reading a book together.

Parenting Time

Most family court judges relay on this methodology whereby the custody arrangement is not only split regarding the parental decision-making, but also on the parenting time that should be allotted to each parent. In other words, the law believes that it is in the best interest of the child to spend time with both parents, but that the time spent together should be quality in nature, even if it is only through visitation rights.

Parenting Time Factors to Be Considered by the Court

As a custody attorney can explain, parent time allotment is based on the best interest of the child and balances the following factors:

  • The wishes of the parent who is requesting parenting time.
  • The wants of the child, especially when the child is of the age and maturity to understand the relationship between him/herself and the parent and his/her preferences for parenting time.
  • The parenting time and caretaking functions of each parent two years prior to the divorce (if the child is under two years of age, then since the child’s birth).
  • Any prior agreement made in a parenting plan or a habitual course of conduct of each parent and his/her caretaking function.
  • The distances between the divorcing spouses’ residences and these residences as compared with the child’s home, school, and friends.

Whether there is an appropriate reason for restricting parenting time due to past physical, emotional, or psychological (or threatened physical, emotional, psychological) abuse; among other considerations.

Course of Conduct and Past Caretaking Functions Very Important to Court

The following are just some of the factors that would be determined in the division of parenting time between the spouses. The most important factor that is considered in the best interest of the child is the course of conduct and the caretaking functions of each parent before the divorce began.

For example, if one parent spent more time providing caretaking functions than another parent either due to availability or interest, the court will consider that course of conduct rather than an expressed desire by the absent parent who is only now taking interest in his/her children as a result of the divorce. This is for the protection of the children to ensure that parenting time is best split based on the ability and desire of parents to be involved in their children’s upbringing.

Experienced Child Custody Attorneys

As child custody laws continue to evolve, it may be confusing to know what exactly your rights in a divorce are. It is important to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. Contact an experienced family law attorney today for a confidential consultation.

Source: Tampa, FL Child Custody Lawyer, The Mckinney Law Group

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