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I am contemplating a divorce. What should I do?
If you are contemplating a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, we encourage you to reach out to a divorce lawyer immediately. A divorce lawyer or attorney can help you navigate the myriad legal issues involved with the dissolution of a marriage.
What is the difference between a contested or uncontested divorce?
A contested divorce is a divorce in which the parties do not agree on certain terms of the divorce, whether that be a division of property or custody/visitation of minor children. If a matter is contested, those issues will be presented to a Judge who will decide the distribution of assets/liabilities, payment of alimony, parental responsibility, child support, and custody/visitation of the minor children. Before you get to the Judge however, you will be required to attend mediation. Mediation is a process whereby a neutral third person acts to encourage the resolution of disputes through a non-adversarial process and assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. Additionally, mediation can save the parties money by helping to resolve the disputed issues early while leaving judicial resources available.
An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the parties agree on all terms of their divorce and have entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement which solemnizes the parties’ agreement with respect to their assets and liabilities, minor children, child support, alimony, etc. The Marital Settlement Agreement will be incorporated into a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage at a Final Judgment Hearing.
What about custody of the children?
The most difficult part of a divorce usually concerns the minor children. In very few circumstances, the divorcing parents are able to work out the custody/time sharing schedule as well as the parental responsibility of the minor children. Many times however, the parties are at odds with each other and the minor children end up somewhere in the middle. Either way, you need the Law Office of Robert D. Burgs on your side to help guide you and represent your rights in court.
What is Custody and what is Time-Sharing?
“Custody” is no longer used by the courts. Instead “Time-Sharing” is the proper term. Simply put, it means the sharing of time with the minor children by both parents or parties.
What is shared Parental Responsibility?
“Shared parental responsibility” means a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their children. Both parents would continue to confer in good faith and with cooperation, so that major decisions such as education, religion or medical needs affecting the welfare of the children will be determined jointly.
What does sole parental responsibility mean?
“Sole parental responsibility” means a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes the decisions regarding the minor children. This is only awarded if shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
What are the factors that the court considers when determining parental responsibility and time-sharing?
Florida Statute 61.13 (3) Parenting and time-sharing.
For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent’s relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration. A determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child. Determination of the best interests of the child 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:
(a) 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.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) 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.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) 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.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) 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.
(k) 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.
(l) 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.
(m) 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.
(n) 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.
(o) 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.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) 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.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
If you are in need of representation on child custody/visitation and parental responsibility, contact the Law Office of Robert D. Burgs for immediate legal direction. Do not make the mistake in trying to do it yourself and do not hire an inexperienced family law attorney. The repercussions are great. It is much more difficult to try and modify a parenting plan than having it done correctly in the first place.