The task of creating a practical and mutually beneficial child custody arrangement, parenting plan or visitation schedule can be quite daunting. Once a valid order is in place, it is vital that each parent puts in the effort to communicate and cooperate with each other to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected. Unfortunately, establishing a custody agreement is often just the first step in the process. As time goes by, families evolve and both personal and professional circumstances change. It is important for everyone involved in your custody or visitation plan to understand how the order may be modified and the potential implications of any change in circumstances.
Florida law specifically addresses when and how custody arrangements may be altered. A visitation or parenting plan must be predicated by a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances for one or both parents or the child. As with the initial visitation determination, the court analyzes several factors when determining if a modification is appropriate. Of utmost importance is maintaining stability for the child while promoting his or her best interests. The presumption remains that co-parenting and shared rights and responsibilities are ideal unless the court deems that such contact would be detrimental to the child.
One of the most common situations that often necessitate a visitation or parenting plan modification is the relocation of a parent. The easiest way to handle relocation is with a written agreement between all persons entitled to visitation or time-sharing with the child. The agreement must illustrate each party’s consent to the relocation, define a schedule of visitation or time with the child for the non-relocating parent and describe transportation arrangements if applicable. If the relocation is contested by the other parent, the court analyzes several factors in determining if a relocation modification is in the best interests of the child. These factors include:
- The nature of the child’s relationship with each parent,
- The potential ramifications the relocation may have on the child’s emotional, physical and educational needs,
- The reasons for the proposed relocation,
- Each parent’s economic and employment circumstances and
- The child’s own wishes and preferences if he or she is of a sufficient age and maturity.
Whether you need help with a sudden change in your life or merely have questions about a potential challenge, seek assistance from an experienced child custody attorney to protect your family’s interests. At the Law Offices of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A., I understand that unforeseen changes in your personal or professional circumstances may impact your family’s current custody or visitation plan. Whether you need help proposing or contesting a modification, I stay by your side and fight for your rights throughout each stage of the legal process.