If you are a parent getting divorced in Florida, you are probably wondering about your custody options. Although all states vary, there are really only two custody options in Florida. In this blog, we discuss your two options so you can make the best choice for your situation.
What Are Florida’s Custody Options?
For parents getting divorced in Florida, there are two options - sole parental responsibility and shared parental responsibility. This was previously commonly known as “sole custody” and “joint custody”. When the judge decides custody, this will determine the physical and legal custody of the child.
The physical custody of the child determines where the child will reside. Legal custody determines which parent is responsible for important decisions regarding the health and wellbeing of the child.
Sole Parental Responsibility (Sole Custody)
If you have been awarded sole parental responsibility, it means you are the only decision-maker for your child. Usually, you will be the parent whom the child will reside with. The other parent will not have decision-making rights in this situation. Therefore, you are the only one who can make important choices and legally choose how to care for and raise your child.
Although it might be tempting to go this route to avoid interacting with your former spouse, you want to give this some thought before you decide to ask for sole custody. As the sole custodian, you are responsible for signing all paperwork relating to your child. Whether it’s a permission slip for a field trip or a visit to the doctor, you will be the only person legally able to fill out these forms. It is also difficult to prove to the court why one parent should not have decision-making rights; so asking for this may be an expensive legal endeavor.
Shared Parental Responsibility (Joint Custody)
If you believe that your child will spend significant time with the other parent, and feel that you and the other parent can agree on most issues regarding your child, you probably want to ask for shared parental responsibility or joint custody. This allows each parent the freedom to appropriately care for the child when they are together.
When shared parental responsibility is awarded, it means both parents must approve all decisions related to the child.
Both parents will have to agree about things such as:
However, it also allows the freedom for each parent to act individually. For example, if a field trip consent form needs to be signed, either parent can do that. Similarly, either parent can sign consent forms for the child to receive medical treatment if necessary.
Do You Need Help with Your Florida Custody Case?
If you are a parent thinking of divorce or are currently in the middle of a divorce, you want a qualified attorney to help ensure you receive appropriate parental rights and visitation of your child. At JPA Law Firm, we are committed to making sure you get as much quality time with your child as possible. To find out how we can help, give us a call today at (305) 423-7065 or contact us online.
Legal representation can be expensive - particularly if you are involved in a case that may take time and several meetings with your lawyer, such as a contested divorce. For those with a tight budget or on a fixed income, it might be tempting to forgo legal representation and try to represent yourself.
This is a bad idea for two reasons. First, although you may save yourself quite a bit of money, this short-sighted move could cost your case. When you are involved in any legal issues, it is always best to have the help of a qualified attorney.
Second, you can easily manage your legal expenses by signing a retainer agreement with a lawyer so that they make a Limited Appearance. This allows you the freedom to specifically choose which lawyer will represent you during certain hearings or perhaps specifically for trial. Because this concept is not widely known, we have outlined everything you need to know about limited appearances in Florida family law cases.
What Is Limited Appearance?
When your attorney files a Notice of Limited Appearance, you are legally indicating that the lawyer you have representing you today in this particular case may not be the lawyer who represents you throughout the whole process. For example, the lawyer who represents you for family law mediation may not be the lawyer who represents you if your case goes to trial. By submitting this Notice, you allow yourself the freedom to shop around and choose the lawyer who best represents your needs and works within your budget. However, do make sure that the lawyer you choose fully understands your entire situation.
When different lawyers handle different aspects of your case, information can be easily forgotten. If you forget to share important information with your lawyer, this could mean you lose a case that you would have otherwise won. Always make sure to clearly communicate with your lawyer.
How Do You File a Notice of Limited Appearance in Florida?
When you have chosen a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will have you read a Florida Family Law Notice of Limited Appearance. Upon your approval, your attorney will then bring this document and present it to the court at your first court date. This will notify the court that you plan for the attorney to represent you in that day’s matter only.
Let Us Help You!
If you are currently feeling the constraints of a tight budget and have family law issues, we can help. At JPA Law Firm, our expert attorneys can help you with your family law troubles while being kind to your wallet. Give us a call today at (305) 423-7065 or contact us online to discover what we can do.