Child Custody Forms Florida
The best method for anyone seeking a court ruling on child custody is to fill out all of the necessary forms as accurately and completely as possible and work out as many of the details as possible before attending a court hearing.
In all custody determinations, throughout Florida statutes is stated that the court will determine child custody based solely on the best interests of the child. Therefore anyone seeking to gain custody of a child needs to analyze what is in the best interests for the child in order for the case to be successful.
The following steps are designed to help anyone seeking custody of a child in Florida. They are not all inclusive and there may be variations based on unique individual situations.
1. Obtain the correct child custody forms. The forms can be obtained through online databases, document-preparing agencies, attorneys, legal aid, or by contacting the county circuit court in which the custody will take place.
2. Fill out the proper forms. Since there are a variety of reasons to file for child custody in Florida, there are particular forms that need to be filled out and filed in order for the case to proceed successfully.
a). The most common occurrence for a child custody battle is due to divorce. In a divorce, many forms need to be filled out, and part of those forms in Florida is a petition for dissolution of marriage and a Parenting Plan. These in conjunction with several other documents will make the basis for the courts decision on child custody. A parenting course is also required by Florida law in a divorce situation to help parents learn about the aspects of being a single parent. Parenting courses teach that children need to have the benefit of having two parents involved in their lives. Florida laws seek to manage this idea by attempting to include both parents as much as possible. In fact, Florida law prohibits one parent from keeping the other parent away from their child completely.
b). The next most common issue is for one of the parents to file a petition for paternity. The Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief, Form 12.983(a), is filed with the court to establish legal paternity. In the mothers case, this document acts as ability to seek support from the father. In the fathers case, this petition acts as a way to establish legal paternity and a time-sharing schedule. In addition to this form, a Child Support Guideline Worksheet, a Parenting Plan, and a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit must be submitted. Other forms include a notice of social security number, a financial law affidavit, and a certificate of compliance with mandatory disclosure. After all of these forms have been filed, if paternity is in dispute from either party then a scientific paternity test can be ordered to establish DNA results.
c). The third issue surrounding child custody is when a family member seeks to gain temporary custody of a child. Without parental consent, this petition must outline that the parents have abused, abandoned, or neglected the child or children.
d). Another situation that arises outside of the scope of divorce is separations. Many couples will separate without filing for dissolution of marriage. This separation can leave the parent caring for children in a financial bind. For this reason, a Petition For Support Unconnected With Dissolution of Marriage With Dependent Or Minor Child(ren), Form 12.904(a), was created. The purpose of this petition and its supporting documents is to ask the court to order child support and spousal support while the separation is in effect.
e). If there is already a custody order from the court, then a petitioner will have to file a motion to amend the custody order.
3. File the approved forms with the clerk of the circuit court. Before filing, all forms need to be filled out in black ink or typed and notarized. When filing, the county circuit court will charge a filing fee for each document. If the filing fee cannot be met, an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status can be filed and the clerk will determine whether the filer is eligible to have the filing fees waived.
4. Once the petition is filed along with all of the supporting paperwork, the other parent has the opportunity to agree with the original documents or file an answer to contest the paperwork. At this point, it is best to attempt to compromise and work out all custody issues prior to going to a hearing or trial. Normally, if a decision can be reached between the couple and it appears that the agreement is in the best interest of the child, then the court will abide by the agreement.
5. The final step is to go to a hearing or trial. If both involved parties could not reach a compromise then all custody decisions fall to the court. The judge will listen to both sides and determine which party is in the childs best interest to gain custody. At the close of the case, the judge will issue an order on all custody and child support, and both parents must abide by the judgment.
Best Interests of the Child
How does Florida custody law determine the best interest of the child The decision is up to the court, but section 61.13(3) contains a list of considerations that become part of the custody decision. First, the court will favor the parent that will allow and encourage a continuing parent-child relationship with the other parent. This includes honoring the time-share schedule and being reasonable to any changes that may occur.
Next, the court will seek to find which parent is more likely to put the needs of the child before their own. Stability and the length of time the child has lived in a particular environment will also play a role in the decision. A childs life does not need to be severely interrupted because the parents decide to be apart. The Parenting Plan will be evaluated to ensure it is complete and supports schooling of children in public school. Interrupting school time is not considered an option, so the best results will minimize any impact to a childs schooling.
In most cases a home study and/or a character study will be conducted to determine with parent is more mentally and physically healthy to be a primary guardian. Other factors include moral fitness of both parents, how parental responsibilities will be separated, how involved the parents will be in the childs social and non-social life, and which parent will provide the most stable routine.
Additionally, if the child is old enough to consult, they will be asked which parent they prefer to live with. Finally, background checks will be done on both parents to determine if any documents or information has been falsified or if either parent has a negative background.
The recommended approach to a Florida child custody case is to hire an attorney, seek legal aid help, or get the help of a document-preparing agency when filling out all of the correct forms. As mentioned above, accurate and in-depth data will aid the custody case and make it easier for all parties to complete the case with the best results possible.
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