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Orlando Child Custody Attorney

Working to secure your child’s best interests

The Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee assists clients in Orlando, Florida with complex family law matters, including child custody, support, paternity and relocation. When parents decide to divorce or separate, issues involving their children can be some of the most difficult and emotional decisions that they face. Through compassionate, yet assertive representation in mediation and trial, Orlando child custody attorney Steve W. Marsee helps his clients obtain custody and support arrangements that benefit both parents and children.

A Child Needs Both Parents

Except for cases where one or both parents pose a direct threat to the child’s health or safety, it is in the child’s best interest to have a consistent, substantial relationship with both of his or her parents. The courts keep this in mind when determining shared parenting agreements.

There are circumstances that can make the court decide that a child would be better off with limited contact with one of his or her parents. The court, depending on the circumstance, could also potentially place limitations on the time that the parent and child spend together, such as requiring another adult to be present or requiring that the visits do not occur at the parent’s home. This can be because of the parent’s violent or criminal history, his or her substance addiction, or the presence of an addicted, violent, or criminal individual in the parent’s household. If you feel the restrictions placed on your parenting time agreement are unfair, work with an experienced family attorney to petition to the court to have your order modified. Conversely, if you feel that your child’s other parent could potentially pose a danger to your child during their time together, you need to petition to the court to have the issue investigated and a new parenting time agreement determined. This responsibility is known as the burden of proof, which means that it is the parent seeking the modification’s responsibility to prove that his or her allegations are true.

As a father, you might feel like the odds are stacked against you regarding a favorable child custody agreement. Work with an Orlando child custody attorney who has experience working with fathers who can fight for your rights in court. You are an equal parent to your child and as such, you have an equal right to spend time with him or her.

Can my Child Choose His or Her Parenting Time Agreement?

This is a common question asked by parents and children alike. In many cases, a child expresses a desire to live with one parent over the other. This could be due to different parenting styles, a stronger relationship between the child and one of his or her parents, or other factors like one parent’s proximity to friends and activities. These reasons are the reasons considered by the court when determining whether a child should have a say in his or her custodial arrangement – there is no set age at which a child’s preference may be considered; rather, it depends on the child’s maturity level as perceived by the court. If the court finds that a child or adolescent can logically articulate a valid reason to live with one parent over the other, such as better academic opportunities, the court may consider it alongside the other factors it uses to determine a parenting schedule. A child’s preference cannot be the sole factor considered when making this determination.

Child custody/shared parental responsibility

The care and residence of a child of divorce is commonly referred to as custody. However, Florida has in fact abandoned the concept of custody in favor of the doctrine of “shared parental responsibility.”  Children benefit from healthy, constructive relationships with both of their parents, and accordingly, under this doctrine both parents retain full parental rights and responsibility for their child after their marriage is dissolved. While the shared parental responsibility doctrine seeks to maintain both parents’ involvement in their child’s life, it also recognizes that one parent is usually primarily responsible for providing the child’s physical residence. In order to determine the best interests of the child for purposes of shared parental responsibility and primary residence, courts evaluate all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child, including:

  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the nonresidential parent
  • The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child
  • The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under Florida law in lieu of medical care, and other material needs
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home
  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The home, school and community record of the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Evidence that any party has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding a domestic violence proceeding
  • Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse

Child support

Under Florida law, parents have a fundamental obligation to support their minor children. To encourage fair and efficient settlement of support issues between parents and minimize the need for litigation, the state provides a guideline schedule that parents and courts use to determine proper child support amounts. The schedule works by approximating how much money would have been spent on the child if the parents and the child were living together. Each parent contributes a proportionate share to the total support amount. Every order for support contains a provision for healthcare coverage for the minor child when the coverage is reasonably available. In some cases, courts may consider it necessary to protect a child support award and order the parent paying support to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or bond or to secure the child support award with other suitable assets. Contact our experienced Orlando child custody attorney for more information.

Paternity

As one of the most experienced Orlando paternity attorneys, Mr. Marsee represents clients who seek to establish or contest paternity. A determination of paternity is essential for a father to enforce his parental rights and for a mother to obtain child support payments. Furthermore, under Florida law, upon the dissolution of a marriage, the legal father of a child must be given the same consideration as the mother when courts determine the child’s primary residence, regardless of the child’s age or sex.

Modifications and relocation

Parental responsibility agreements and child support amounts may be modified upon showing substantial changes in circumstances. Events that often lead to modifications of existing orders include the loss of a job, an illness, the changing needs of a child and relocation. Relocation of one or both parents presents a range of unique issues concerning how each parent will continue to meet his or her obligations to the child, both emotionally and financially. Mr. Marsee has extensive experience helping families deal with relocation, including when one parent objects to the other parent’s proposed relocation.

Consult a dedicated Orlando Child Custody Attorney

Orlando child custody attorney Steve W. Marsee helps spouses reach custody and support agreements that benefit their children’s best interests. Contact the firm today for a free initial consultation.

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