The Florida Statutes regarding parental responsibilities for minor children no longer contain the word "custody" as it relates to parental rights and responsibilities. Instead, the law requires the parents or the Court to create a Parenting Plan .
Parents must attempt to devise a Parenting Plan which specifically states how they are going to share time with their children, taking into account the parents' work schedules, the children's school schedules, the children's extra-curricular activities, and other factors. The parents must also determine how they will make parenting decisions for their children.
Above all, the parents and the Court must try to determine what is in the best interests of the minor children. Sometimes, the assistance of experts is utilized. The parties may consult with a psychologist or other qualified counselor to assist them in determining how to create a Plan that will promote the children's best interests.
Sometimes the Court appoints a "Guardian ad Litem," a person who conducts a social investigation and makes a recommendation to the Court concerning the issues that the parents dispute. In Orange County, Florida, Guardian ad Litems are attorneys. Ms. Hankins often serves as a Court appointed Guardian ad Litem in domestic disputes in Domestic Relations Court. She has also served as Guardian ad Litem in Dependency Court, when it is alleged that parents have abandoned, abused or neglected a child.
Florida law requires both parents to complete educational parenting courses prior to entry of a final divorce judgment. Some links appear below.
You should seek advice from a competent family law attorney concerning your Parenting Plan. Remember, the future of your children is at stake.
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