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Information Center: Child Custody

Approximately 70% of divorced men and 60% of divorced women remarry whether or not they have children, and most do so within five years.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody and Visitation

Q: What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

A: Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who has responsibilities associated with daily childcare. Legal custody is the decision-making responsibilities associated with the education, healthcare and religious upbringing of a child.

Q: When parents fight over custody, how does the court decide?

A: The typical standard is the best interests of the child. Each state has specific guidelines, but the court usually takes into consideration what each parent wants, what the child wants (if the child is old enough and/or mature enough), which parent has been the primary caretaker, the parenting abilities of each parent and whether there is a history of abuse.

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Orlando, Florida, Child Custody and Visitation Attorney

How will my children be affected by the decisions I make? When parents are experiencing a divorce or modifying a child custody arrangement, their first concern is often for the well-being of their children. At our Orlando, Florida, law office, lawyer Timothy Terry can speak with you about Florida law and help you make the decisions about child custody and visitation that will be best for your children. We know that legal issues regarding children can be complex. That's why we use our 25 years of experience to guide you through Florida law. Call today for a confidential consultation at 407-965-2256.

Child Custody and Visitation - An Overview

Parents who are divorcing have much to consider. Uppermost in their minds is often child custody. Child custody and visitation/parenting time can come in many forms. Joint custody and sole custody; legal custody and physical custody; custody evaluations and modifications: all are terms with which a divorcing parent will become familiar. Knowledgeable advice and skilled representation from an experienced family law attorney can assist you in your pursuit of a fair custody arrangement.

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Creating Parenting Plans that Work

A parenting plan is an agreement between parents who are either divorced/divorcing or never married, and it outlines the custody of their children. It takes into account arrangements such as who has the children on which days; who makes major decisions about the children's education, health, etc.; and what to do if any party's situation significantly changes. Parents who agree on a parenting plan rather than let the court decide are more likely to comply with custody arrangements.

Sitting down with the spouse you are divorcing to work out a parenting plan may seem like the last thing you want to do, but this approach holds many advantages. You are the people who know your children best: their needs, their schedules and their preferences. By working together to create a parenting plan that satisfies the needs of your new family structure, you will avoid the possibility of a court's less nuanced solution. A court can only know what you tell it about your family's particularities, but you and your spouse are already exceptionally familiar with the territory. A family law attorney can help you create a plan that is right for you and your family.

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Divorce Education

Each year, about 1 million American children see their families changed through divorce. The ongoing health and mental well-being of these children often depends upon how their parents interact following the end of the marriage. An experienced family law attorney can inform, guide and support you throughout the divorce and custody process.

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Custody and Visitation Dos and Don'ts

One thing divorce does not change is your being a parent. Whether you develop a traditional visitation schedule or a flexible co-parenting plan, whether the arrangement is temporary or permanent, you can help make the time you spend with your children happy and productive. When questions regarding custody and visitation arise, an experienced family law attorney is the ideal source for competent counsel.

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Custody Evaluations: What You Should Know

If you and your former spouse have been unable to reach an agreement regarding child custody, the family court judge deciding your case may order a custody evaluation. A custody evaluation is a process in which a mental health professional, usually a psychologist, evaluates you, your children and your spouse in order to make a custody and visitation recommendation to the court. Courts tend to give considerable weight to the recommendations of the evaluator. A family law attorney can explain custody evaluations and answer your child custody questions.

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Child Custody and Visitation Resource Links

ABA Custody Criteria Report
The American Bar Association offers this table with current custody criteria for all 50 states.

US State Department: International Child Abduction
This Web page is a US Department of State guide for people whose children have been parentally abducted and taken across an international border.

Children's Rights Council
The CRC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the idea that both parents should be involved in their children's lives; the CRC provides free drop-off/pick-up centers for custody transfers.

Human Rights Campaign: Custody
HRC's Web site provides information for gay and lesbian parents who are fighting for custody of their children.

Model Parenting Time for Parent/Child Access
These guidelines from the Arizona Supreme Court provide lots of ideas on how to structure parenting time.

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