Premier Family Law Representation In Southern Florida

Mark Abzug
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Your Child Custody Advocate

Legal proceedings of any kind are difficult, and they require a great amount of perseverance and determination on the part of both the client and the attorney. This is especially true in family law matters involving children. Keeping your cool may be difficult when the care and support of your children are in the balance, but our Coral Springs child custody lawyer will provide you with level-headed advice and aggressive, effective representation so you get the outcome you deserve.

Attorney Mark Abzug represents clients who require assistance determining child custody and child support arrangements for their children. Whether you are a single parent or are divorced from the other parent, we can provide you with the tools you need to fight for what’s best for your children.

To find out more about our family law practice, including paternity and child support matters, call 954-840-8883 or contact us online. We offer free initial consultations and flexible hours.

Experienced in Visitation, Timesharing and Custody Law in Florida

We understand that a divorce may be the most difficult issue you face in your life. At the Law Offices of Mark Abzug, P.A., in Coral Springs, Florida, we provide clients with the legal knowledge they need to make informed decisions about child custody and visitation, including:

  • Shared parental responsibility
  • Sole custody
  • Rotating custody

Florida Statute §61.13 directs the court to determine all matters relating to custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. It is the public policy of the state of Florida to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or divorce. We encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of child rearing.

Shared Parental Responsibility and Time Sharing (Visitation)

Florida law prefers this type of custody arrangement over all others. Shared parenting contemplates both parents having an equal say so as it relates to making important decisions affecting the child’s welfare, including but not necessarily limited to medical, religious and educational decisions. Until recently, the courts selected one parent to serve as the primary residential parent. Historically, that parent enjoyed the privilege of having that child live with him or her and the other parent was simply referred to as the secondary parent and/or the nonprimary parent.

The Florida Legislature has made a number of changes to the parent statute over the years. The terms of primary and secondary parent were abolished in 2008. It was believed that by labeling parents in this manner, acrimony was created. Instead, now we only have “parents.” Additionally, the term “visitation” was also deleted from the statute. Many parents were offended by the concept that when their children were spending time with them, their children were visiting with them. Children visit relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles. Children also visit friends and neighbors. But children do not visit their parents; they live with them. It just so happens that children often live with one parent more than the other.

Instead of using the term visitation, the statute now uses the term time sharing. Additionally, the statute now requires the parties to enter into a parenting plan to establish a mechanism for the manner in which decisions will be made. The statute also requires one parent to be designated as the parent whose address will be used for purposes of determining where the children will attend school. The court may continue to use the term primary residence, which is intended to define the home in which the children spend more than half of their time.

More recently, the law was changed to create a rebuttable presumption that equal timesharing is in the best interests of children. A party seeking an arrangement other than equal timesharing has the burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that equal timesharing would not be in the best interests of the child or children in question.

Both parents owe an affirmative obligation to the other parent to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent. Even in cases where timesharing is not equal, both parents can have an equal voice in making important decisions.

Sole Custody/Sole Parental Responsibility

Unfortunately, under certain circumstances, it is in the best interests of a child if only one of his or her parents has the right to make important decisions in affecting his or her welfare. A parent who is awarded sole custody is not required to take the other parent’s opinions into consideration. Florida judges may order this type of custodial arrangement if one of the parents has demonstrated that having the other parent participate in making decisions affecting the child is harmful to the child. A parent who has been convicted of child abuse or who has a drug problem may not be allowed to participate in making any decisions affecting the child’s welfare.

Rotating Custody

Pursuant to F.S.§ 61.121, the court may order rotating custody if the court finds that rotating custody will be in the best interest of the child. Florida’s appellate courts have conflicting opinions as to what factors should be considered in reaching a decision as to whether rotating custody is in the best interests of the child.

In its ruling in Hosein v. Hosein, 785 So. 2d 703 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001), the Fourth District Court of Appeals (which includes Broward and Palm Beach counties) has identified several factors that a trial court should consider in determining whether the circumstances overcome the presumption against rotating the primary residence:

  • The age and maturity of the child
  • Whether the child is in school
  • The proximity of the parents’ residences
  • The child’s preferences
  • The disruptive effect of the rotation on the child
  • The reasonableness of the period of time spent with each parent
  • The relation of the periods of custody to divisions in the child’s life, such as the school year
  • The parents’ attitudes toward one another or how their attitudes will be perceived by the child

The Second District Court of Appeals has held that a divorce judgment ordering rotating child custody was not in best interest of child, where parents showed animosity toward one another and were trying to use child in possessive manner. Lamelas v. Granados, 730 So.2d 387 (Fla. 2nd DCA1999). However, the Second District Court has also held that the child custody statute providing that the court may order rotating custody upon finding that it will be in the best interest of the child does not abolish presumption that rotating custody is not in the best interest of a minor child. Mandell v. Mandell, 741 So. 2d 617 (Fla. 2nd DCA1999).

To date, the Florida Supreme Court has not issued an opinion setting forth what factors should be considered to determine whether rotating custody is in the best interests of the child. For example, although the Fourth District has held that “rotating custody was not in the best interests of child where parents showed animosity toward one another,” other courts have held that when there is animosity, perhaps rotating custody would be better to minimize the amount of contacts between the parents. In short, there are not enough reported cases to guide lawyers and/or judges and new law is evolving every day.

Mediation vs. Litigation

Sometimes, it is in the best interests of all parties involved to resolve child custody and visitation issues through mediation. Our law office provides mediation services for people embroiled in family law disputes. If a custody dispute must be litigated, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to interview the children and any witnesses and then provide a recommendation on behalf of the children. That advice is paramount in the court-making custody decisions and attempts to keep children from having to testify in court.

Serving Clients in Fort Lauderdale and Throughout the Area

The Law Offices of Mark Abzug, P.A., offers our family law clients compassionate customer service and aggressive, effective representation. For more information about how we can help you with your legal matter, call us at 954-840-8883 or contact us online. We offer FREE initial consultations and flexible hours.