Child custody is one of the most contentious issues involved in any divorce. Who will get custody? If I'm the father, will I get to see my kids? Who will have a say in how the child is raised? What if I believe the child is in a dangerous environment?
Getting a divorce when there are children involved usually means a custody battle. Even when both of you want what is best for the child, things can get out of hand.
Many Florida parents who are of different faiths go on to get a divorce. A contentious question often arises regarding in which religion the child will be raised by the custodial parent. If the parents are unable to agree, the court will be left in a position in which it must balance the fundamental First Amendment rights of the parent to choose their own religion versus the best interests of the child.
Florida, along with several other states, has enacted laws regarding virtual visitation. Virtual visitation allows non-custodial parents to use electronic forms of communication, including video conferencing and instant messaging, to maintain a relationship with their children.
Florida law protects children from abuse with a number of laws. It is possible for a parent or guardian to legally lose their custody and visitation rights because of violent or abusive behavior. However, the parental right to see and interact with their child is strongly respected by state and federal law. If it is possible for the parent to interact safely and appropriately with their offspring, then the court may choose to make provisions for custody, visitation or supervised visitation.
A divorce can create challenges for all family members, and grandparents may worry about being able to spend time with grandchildren if a contentious divorce and child custody case has occurred. While an amicable custody arrangement might not require any court action for grandparents seeking the opportunity to continue to have interaction and visits with a child, a grandparent may be able to seek court assistance if a grandchild's parents object to nurturing this relationship.
Florida residents may be interested in a recent article which discussed the current plight of divorced fathers facing alleged discrimination by the Florida family court system. According to the article, the discrimination stems from the failure of a bill last year that would have overhauled the court system. Opposition to the bill was lobbied intensely by a women's rights group. Among other things, the bill would have ended the possibility of fathers paying permanent alimony.
One question that might be asked in Florida and anywhere that U.S. family law matters are discussed is, "Why are more single men heading up households than ever before?" The answer may lie in the fact that judges in some states are following revamped guidelines for awarding child custody in divorce. The new rules handed down to family law courts by state legislatures redefine what is meant by "the best interests of the child," the gold standard of priorities in custody disputes.
In standard divorce cases with children involved, custody is a matter that is discussed and then determined by the courts. Child custody presents a more complex issue when the matter is not an issue of divorce but of parental crime.
A Florida judge unexpectedly ordered a mother to place her homeschooled children into a public school during a divorce hearing even though child custody and the children's education had not been placed in issue. The divorcing parents were in court on another issue when the children's guardian ad litem -- a person appointed by the court to represent the children's best interests --told the judge that she did not believe it was in the children's best interests for them to be homeschooled.