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How do Floridians organize their child visitation schedules?

When you're trying to negotiate a child visitation schedule with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it can be a difficult and emotional process. More than that, though, spouses often feel lost as to what visitation schedule is the most appropriate. Fortunately, Florida parents don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to visitation schedules.

Usually, the non-custodial parent will be in charge of about 20 percent of parenting time. This doesn't account for daycare time or school time. Here are some of the most common child custody arrangements that parents select:

Determining your child's best interests

It doesn't matter what your agenda is, and it doesn't matter how you feel about the issue. When it comes to child custody lawsuits, Florida courts will always strive to make decisions that honor the best interests of your child first and foremost.

That said, it might not be entirely easy for a Florida parent -- or a Florida court for that matter -- to ascertain what the best interests of a particular child happen to be. In evaluating "best interests," courts will usually look at the following general factors:

Japan does not have a good track record with the Hague Convention

Japan ratified the Hague Convention on international child abduction about three years ago. At the time, legal experts celebrated the fact that Japan had agreed to honor the child custody orders of other countries in parental child abduction cases. Japan had long been considered one of the worst countries to deal with when it came to international parental child abduction because the country typically awarded custody to Japanese parent, and there was little that American parent could do.

The problem is, three years after Japan joined the Convention, some are saying that the country remains reticent to return children to their home countries. Sixty-eight requests have been made to return children under the Convention so far, but only 18 ended up with the children going back. Twelve were dismissed, 19 resulted in settlements not to return the children and 19 more are still pending. This means that Japan has only returned children in less than 30 percent of the requests.

Protecting your children during parental visitation time

Every family is different, and some families have an abusive parent. That parent might be physically or verbally abusive, but whatever form the abuse takes, you will want to protect your children from being harmed by it when they're spending time with the parent. Here's what you need to know.

If your ex has a legally documented history of being abusive, in which there are domestic violence arrests, it's important to make this point known when the family law court is making its decision on visitation rights. In cases where the court has any reason to believe that the children will be in danger, it will assign supervised visitation.

Should in-vitro children be told how they were conceived?

In-vitro fertilization and other modern fertility practices -- like surrogacy and artificial insemination -- bring up different legal questions. Most importantly, do the children born from these practices have the right to know who their real parents are? And, should these children be given other special rights?

Are you in danger of losing child custody?

Not having access to your children -- or not having them by your side every evening when you're home from work -- is not something any Florida parent wants to imagine. Nevertheless, if circumstances have arisen that could result in you losing your parental rights, this fear could be very real for you.

Florida parents accused of crimes, parents in difficult financial circumstances and parents in the midst of highly contentious child custody battles might find themselves in danger of losing their parental rights. If you're facing this kind of situation, it's important that you act fast, swiftly and strategically to increase the chances that you will not lose your child.

Florida law and virtual visitation

In the digital era, we have a lot of ways to visit one another. We can do it in person, but we can also visit each other on the cellphone, via Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and numerous other internet-based applications. In fact, due to the prevalence of digital communication, the state of Florida has enacted laws that provide "internet visitation" rights to parents when their children are staying with or visiting the other parent.

Virtual visitation like this may not be ordered in all child visitation cases. However, parents are within their rights to request such an order, and judges can order virtual visitation as they see fit depending on the circumstances.

International custody dispute decided by federal court in Florida

A federal court in Florida ruled last week that a 20-month-old baby girl will be returned to her mother in Okinawa, Japan. The court made its decision under the Hague Convention, a cross-national agreement designed to prevent parental kidnappings. This is the first decision to benefit Japan since 2014, when Japan agreed to join the treaty.

The child's father is a United States soldier. The U.S. Middle District Court in Florida ruled that the man must return his daughter to the mother in Okinawa. The court ruled that Okinawa is the baby's "habitual residence."

When can grandparents get custody of their grandchildren?

The majority of Florida grandparents want to see their grandchildren as much as possible. Most parents readily support these visitation opportunities, especially because grandparents can serve as extra babysitters, give rides to their grandkids, and even help out financially with childcare expenses.

That said, circumstances force some grandparents to take an even more important role in the rearing of their grandchildren. For example, a grandparent might need to take over as a grandchild's primary guardian and childcare provider.

Parental abduction laws

Violating a child custody order can result in a charge of parental abduction against the parent who absconds with his or her child. It might seem innocent enough to a parent who takes the child -- or the legal violation may even seem justified on a moral level -- and this is why these cases tend to happen.

A parent may, for example, take his or her child across state lines in violation of a child custody order and then stay longer than he or she expected. Nevertheless, according to Florida child custody law, this could qualify as a parental abduction case.

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900 South Pine Island Road, Suite 230
Plantation, FL 33324

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