The legislature of the state of Florida has been examining extensive measures proposed to reform not only alimony payments in the state, but to also address custody issues. Proposed legislation resurfaced after Governor Rick Scott vetoed the Florida Alimony Bill back in 2013, and while it is true this proposed legislative change is dead in the current session, a revisit later in 2015 appears extremely likely.
Even without further legal reform, however, interested parties should know that in Florida a father has been granted the same rights as a mother ever since the 2008 overhaul of laws regarding visitation and custody. This was a significant change to the prior legal environment for fathers seeking custody rights for their children after a divorce. Many are still not aware of the change in legal environment, remembering instead the real burden Florida fathers used to face to prove they should have full custody, or even as much time with their children as the children’s mother.
Today, lawyers representing fathers now have a much stronger legal basis upon which to protect the rights of their clients. The burden of proof is now upon the mother should she wish the court to rule that the father should not have equal time with the child or children.
Let’s not underestimate the challenge: it is still rare in the state of Florida for either parent to get sole custody. But if it can be proven in court that sharing the responsibilities of parenthood would not be in the best interests of the children, and indeed could be harmful, it is not impossible.
The father could be granted full custody by the court if a plausible argument can be made that the mother will undermine the relationship between the father and the children. Or, more severely, demonstrating that the mother will violate any time-sharing rules established by the court can result in the father being granted sole custody.
This is serious business for parents, as evidenced by a recent example. A South Florida mother, accompanied by her boyfriend, fled the state with her three boys. She did not get permission from their father, and after they were located in California, a judge awarded the father sole custody of all three children. Not only that, but the judge also issued an order prohibiting the mother from having any visitation rights at all.
At the Ledezma Law Firm, we represent your interests and options in formulating child custody agreements. Count on us to protect the legal, emotional, and financial point of view of you and your children.