Child Custody, Visitation,
and Modifications

Divorce and paternity are difficult and emotional issues. Child custody and visitation are addressed in a parenting plan, a required document for divorcing parents or unmarried fathers with legal rights. There are many factors to consider in a parenting plan and it is highly recommended that parents develop a workable plan. Otherwise, the court will decide issues regarding parental responsibilities on their behalf. High-conflict cases and parents who live more than fifty miles from each other require more structured parenting plans. These parents generally have more difficulty communicating and co-parenting.

Sole Parental Responsibility

The Florida family court system recognizes the benefits of both parents having a relationship with the child. It is rare for either parent to have exclusive physical and legal custody. For that to occur, the court must determine that shared parental responsibilities would be detrimental to the child. In certain situations, the court may order a parent to have supervised visitation. However, a parent with sole custody cannot deny visitation unless the court approves it. 

Reasons that a parent can obtain full physical and legal custody, excluding the co-parent, in Florida are:

  • Drug or alcohol abuse that interferes with parental duties 
  • Domestic violence or child abuse, neglect or abandonment 
  • Demonstrated psychological disorders that put the child in jeopardy 
  • The inability for a parent to provide a safe, stable home for a child 
  • Potential flight risk for parental child abduction 
  • Long-term incarceration 

Your Rights as an Unmarried Parent

Under Florida law, an unmarried father has no legal rights, even if the father is named on the birth certificate. If a child’s mother denies the father’s paternity, it must be established through genetic testing. Establishing paternity gives both parents the legal right to obtain a child support order and court-ordered custody or visitation. Having a legally recognized father is essential for a child to have certain legal rights. These include obtaining information on family medical history, health or life insurance benefits, child support, social security, military benefits, and inheritances.

Modifications of Child Custody and Visitation

A parent can petition for a modification of custody and visitation if the child’s needs have changed, the child’s safety is at risk, or the circumstances of either parent have changed significantly. The petitioning parent must provide compelling evidence of substantial, material, and unforeseeable changes in circumstances. Examples may be the relocation of a parent, domestic violence, a significant illness of a parent or a child, or evidence that a child is in danger when under the supervision of a parent. To show that a modification is in the child’s best interest, a parent can present medical records, witness testimony, school records, photos, e-mails, and more.

False Allegations

Child custody, visitation, and modification cases often face complications. These cases can be highly contentious, with parents making unfounded allegations. They may believe it will give them an advantage or disrupt the co-parent’s legal rights. False allegations have the potential to lead to criminal charges and can destroy a parent’s reputation. Victims of false allegations must have experienced legal representation to fight the claims aggressively and ensure that the focus remains on the child’s best interest. 

Sparrow & Fairchild, Attorneys at Law can guide you through Child Custody, Visitation, and Modifications

Attorney Jimmie Sparrow and Attorney Lee Fairchild understands how Family Court works and what evidence is needed to succeed in your case. Our law firm will deal with the legal system and make sure enforceable agreements are in place. We will advocate for your parental rights in an amicable agreement or help you resolve your custody and visitation disputes in court.

Help is just a phone call away. Call Sparrow & Fairchild, Attorneys at Law, for compassionate representation for all of your family law needs. Our office is conveniently located in Ocala, Florida. Contact us at 352-421-9261 to schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns.