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Things to Know Before Filing for Child Custody & Child Support in Florida

While you do not technically need a lawyer to file for divorce, child custody, or child support in the State of Florida, having an experienced legal representative by your side can strongly affect the outcome of your case.

As a former lawyer for the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support office, our Stuart family law attorney, Denise Miller, has the knowledge and resources parents need to make informed legal decisions about their children’s physical, emotional, and financial stability.

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody in Florida?

Child custody is designed to provide minors with the care, control, and maintenance necessary to learn and grow in a safe and nurturing environment.

Child custody laws in Florida help determine legal and physical custody, and whether those titles are distributed through sole or joint custody.

Those roles are decided through: 

  • Legal Custody: Legal child custody determines the parent(s) decision making regarding medical, educational, religious, and disciplinary decisions. Legal custody is often awarded to both parents, so they can collaborate when making important decisions regarding their child’s upbringing and future.
  • Physical Custody: Physical child custody describes where the child lives.
  • Sole Custody: Sole custody describes one parent as the child’s legal and physical custodian.
  • Joint Custody: Joint custody describes both parents sharing legal and physical custody of the child. In Florida, this is called Shared Parental Responsibility.

Shared Parental Responsibility means both parents must approve all decisions related to the child. In this scenario, one parent will become the primary custodian, which establishes where the child lives, where he or she goes to school and receives medical care.

If both parents cannot agree on custody, a judge will decide for you by evaluating the best interests of the child.

Child custody cases are complex and require evidence and sometimes expert testimony to establish which parent will maintain the daily developmental, emotional, physical, and educational needs of the child.

When the courts are charged with determining who is more likely to maintain a stable, consistent, loving, and nurturing relationship with the child, the outcome can be unpredictable.

Child custody is too important to leave to chance.

That is why it is important to have an experienced Stuart child custody lawyer by your side to ensure your rights are protected and that you are pursuing the best outcome available for your unique circumstances.

Florida Child Support Is an Integral Part Your Child’s Growth

Ensuring your child’s needs are being met requires significant financial contributions from both parents. Simply put, kids are expensive.

While the courts consider many factors when determining child support amounts, as the child’s primary custodian, there are other aspects of child support that should be considered before filing for financial maintenance.

First, if you are a single parent and have not filed for child support but are seeking government aid to supplement your expenses, the Florida Department of Children and Families will automatically send a request to open a child support case when you apply for public assistance.

Next, child support payments do not impact child custody or visitation. Even when the other parent does not pay child support regularly, the child is still entitled to generous visitation with the other parent. In short, you cannot abandon the child custody agreement simply because the other parent is behind on child support payments.

Finally, before filing for child support, ask yourself how you feel about having the other parent actively participate in your child’s life.

Whether the first step is proving paternity, which is required to pursue child support, or taking the steps to hold the other established parent financially responsible, it may allow your child’s other parent to exercise their parental rights — no matter how long he or she has previously ignored them — including visitation.

At the Law Office of Denise Miller, our child custody attorney in Stuart understands that, in most cases, more involvement between a child and both of their parents provides a positive experience. But it is something to consider before seeking financial support.

Contact Our Family Law Attorney in Stuart, Florida Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have questions about divorce, child support, or child custody, contact our experienced Stuart family law attorney in Martin County at (772) 934-6007 to learn more about your legal options and how we can help you pursue your goals by building a strategic approach to producing results for your unique circumstances.

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