Most states have child custody laws that refer to “legal” as well as “physical” custody. A parent awarded sole legal custody will make all the decisions for the child regarding education, discipline, religion, health, etc. Physical custody is awarded to the parent that the child lives with as his principal residence. Florida’s child custody laws are similar to those of other states in that these same issues relating to the child’s needs are addressed, but there are some significant differences in how a court arrives at a custody plan. In Florida Statute 61.13, which covers support and custody issues, the terms “legal” and “physical custody” are actually not used. Rather than employing these more traditional terms, Florida law refers to “time-sharing,” “parental responsibility,” and a “parenting plan.”
The amount of support a parent would be required to pay is dependent on the parenting plan. Florida uses the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to determine support based on the parents’ respective incomes, percentage of time-sharing the child has with each parent, cost of the child’s health insurance, day care costs, and uncovered medical expenses. Only overnight stays are considered in determining percentage time-sharing. Generally, the more overnight stays that a child has with one parent, the less that parent would be expected to pay in child support. A child support order cannot be modified unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
Therefore, although Florida has abandoned use of the traditional terms “legal” and “physical” custody, the substance of those terms lives on in the parenting plan which must contain a time-sharing schedule and a plan as to who will make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The support order will be hinge on the details of the time-sharing schedule as well.
The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. has years of experience and possesses the legal knowledge necessary to zealously represent the interests of its clients who are facing these difficult decisions of child custody and support. We serve clients in Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, Boca Raton, Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Martin County. Contact us today at 561-429-3924 to schedule a consultation.