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01/10/2014
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Child Custody

Child Custody

With decades of combined experience, Alba & Straile PLLC understands the care and tact required to handle child custody cases properly. While preserving a party’s legal rights is undoubtedly an essential component, the most vital aspect of child custody matters is ensuring the child’s best interests. Clients concerned with safeguarding their children deserve sound legal advice during the emotionally trying experience of resolving parental responsibility and residential care issues.

Alba & Straile PLLC recognizes that providing superior representation requires legal knowledge and proficiency. In addition, it requires an aggressive yet compassionate approach, which must begin with a thorough and attentive consideration of each client’s unique situation.

What is a child custody proceeding?

For many, the term “child custody” invokes an immediate thought of two parents seeking to establish their rights to a child as part of a divorce proceeding. Many custody cases involve a simultaneous divorce. However, disputes also commonly arise between parties who, though never married to one another, need assistance in defining, establishing, or modifying custodial terms. As such, a proceeding involving child custody, in the legal context, can encompass a wide array of issues relating to parenting, time-sharing, or other matters concerning entitlement or access to a minor child. Further, it is necessary to consider the application of both Florida-specific law and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Pursuant to the UCCJEA, which was enacted in 1997, and adopted by our state in 2002, Florida Statute §61.503(4) defines a child custody proceeding as:

  • “…a proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody, residential care, or visitation with respect to a child is an issue. The term includes a proceeding for divorce, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights, and protection from domestic violence, in which the issue may appear. The term does not include a proceeding involving juvenile delinquency, contractual emancipation, or enforcement under ss. 61.524-61.540.”

What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

Clients often inquire about the different classifications of child custody. First, it is vital to understand the difference between physical and legal custody. Legal custody refers to the parental right to decide about the child’s education, religion, health care, and general well-being. Physical custody refers to when a parent is actually with the child. It is the responsibility of that parent to provide the care and well-being of the child during that particular period. Whereas one parent may be awarded physical custody at any particular time, frequently, both parents will share legal custody.

What are the types of custody?

In responding to this question, it is first necessary to understand numerous potential combinations of physical and legal custody. Consider the following scenarios:

—The parent has no right to make decisions about the child (no legal custody). However, the parent has access to or time-sharing with the child (physical custody)

—The parent has the right to make decisions about the child (legal custody). However, the parent is permitted only supervised visitation (limited physical custody)

—The parent has the right to make decisions about the child (legal custody) AND is permitted time-sharing with the child (physical custody)

The list above includes just a few of the possible scenarios. Further complicating matters are that some orders may be temporary. In addition, custody may be split when there is more than one child or time-sharing may require supervision. There are many circumstances that can change child custody orders.

Some common types of custody and related topics are:

  • Sole Parental Responsibility
  • Shared Parental Responsibility
  • Split Custody
  • Temporary Custody Orders
  • Visitation & Time-sharing
  • Supervised Visitation
  • Parenting Plans
  • Modifications
  • Family Law Appeals

How does the court assess child custody matters?

The most important thing to remember is what would be best for the child. Determining a child’s best interest requires that the court evaluate all factors affecting the child’s welfare. While many factors taken into consideration are explicitly stated within the criteria, some are set forth under a separate statutory provision. In contrast, others are more implicit in nature.

Just a few of the issues that can play a role in a custody determination include:

  • Child’s Preference in Custody Matters
  • Domestic Violence
  • Parental Incarceration
  • Substance Abuse Issues
  • Children with Special Needs
  • Parental Medical Issues
  • Dependency-related Matters: Abuse, Abandonment, Neglect, Harm

What are some other issues, concerns, aspects, or scenarios in child custody matters?

Every family has its own unique set of circumstances. Therefore, the dynamics associated with one custody case can vary significantly in comparison to another. When selecting a child custody attorney, parents should consider potential future issues. It is necessary to address all current and potential future custody matters instead of compromising your parental rights or revisiting the same issues in the future.

Alba & Straile PLLC is a results-driven firm committed to providing our clients with compassion, attention to detail, and ease of attorney accessibility.  Our child custody attorneys can provide you with the sound legal representation necessary to effectively and efficiently address all your child custody-related needs. We represent clients throughout Florida. Contact Alba & Straile PLLC at (352) 371-9141 for a no-obligation consultation today.