In the case of child custody, it is important to remember that the most critical part is the best interest of the child. At any point that a relationship ends between two parents, whether they were ever married or not, their needs are not as important as the well-being of the child they are to support together. There is a decent amount of information on child custody laws in Florida that should be helpful to anyone who is seeking help in this specific area.
Unwed fathers seeking custody
At the time of childbirth, an unwed mother is presumed to have natural custody of her child. This does not mean that a father cannot step forward and gain custody or time-sharing, but the process is a little more time consuming. An unwed father seeking custody must demonstrate to the court that he is actively involved in raising his child. Paternity must first be established by a court and then the family law court can award time-sharing and equal parental rights for the father.
There are certain things a judge will look at to determine what is in the best interest of the child. This is a general list of questions that a judge may use to decide which parent receives which kind of custody.
- What is the relationship between the child and each parent?
- Do the parents have the necessary skills to raise a child?
- What kind of home environment can each parent provide?
- Is the child emotionally connected to one parent more than the other?
- Are there special needs that one parent is more suited to meeting than the other?
- Is one parent more willing to facilitate time-sharing and allow relationship growth with the child’s other parent?
- Who has the child been living with primarily in the past?
- What is the employment/stability status of each parent?
- Are there illnesses or habits of the parents that may harm the child?
- What do each parent’s finances look like?
- Do the parents have positive motives for seeking child custody?
- Are either of the parents fit to have child custody?
- Are their step-siblings that a child is emotionally connected to that lives with one parent?
- Does one parent have a criminal background?
Assuming that both parents show that they are fit parents and capable of raising their child, experts generally recommend that both parents play an active role in child rearing. Raising a child is not easy work. Two parents give the child the greatest opportunities in life, even if that only entails an extra amount of income. The child custody laws in Florida are in place to ensure the well-being of the child is met.
Coming up with a child custody agreement (also known as a Parenting Plan) will spell out what is expected of each of the parents and can be creative to each family and as specific as needed. Hopefully this will lessen the hardship of dealing with the emotions involved in the parents’ past relationship. If you are able to agree on terms of the parenting plan, you may be able to stay out of the courtroom and keep your family’s issues in your own hands.
The information on child custody laws in Florida is readily available, but to ensure that you understand the information it is best to seek legal help. Trained professionals are at your fingertips. All you need to do now is reach out. Contact me, Mindi Lasley, at 813-873-9047 to set up an appointment.