Florida Statutes (2022) discusses Florida Child Custody or Parental Responsibility, its types, factors for determining parental responsibility, process used & parenting plan outlined under Florida Statute 61.13 and § 61.046(17). In Florida, the courts no longer use the term “custody” as neither party is “awarded custody.” The courts assign “Parental responsibility”. The term “parental responsibility” was adopted by the Florida Legislature to signify that both parents should share parental responsibilities for the child. Parental responsibility in Florida refers to the shared obligation of both parents to raise a child.
Types of child custody/parental responsibility in Florida include legal and physical custody. Legal Custody determines who is involved in making parenting decisions. Parents have the right to make legal decisions for their children. The choices involve matters pertaining to the child’s health, happiness, and education. Parents have the authority to determine a child’s extracurricular activities and religious training. Kinds of legal custody include sole legal custody and joint legal custody. Physical custody determines where the child lives or resides. Kinds of physical custody include Physical Custody, Sole Physical Custody, and Joint Physical Custody.
In Florida methods used for determining parental responsibility include Collaborative Child Custody Proceedings, Parenting Coordination, Arbitration and Trial and Litigation.
Factors involved for determining parental responsibility in Florida include Best Interests of the Child, Child’s Preference, Child’s Relationship with Each Parent, Mental and Physical Health of the Parents, Parental History of Mental or Physical Abuse and Parent’s Ability to Provide for the Child’s Needs.
In Florida, Process for determining parental responsibility involves various steps. These steps are Research, Preparation, & Form Completion, Filing Necessary Forms, Attend Parenting Classes, Mandatory Disclosure (Discovery), Mediation & Negotiation, Pre-Trial Conference with Judge, Case Goes to Trial and Final Judgment Issued by Court.
The court issues a parenting plan in Florida when determining child custody or parenting time. The parenting plan lays out how parents divide up duties and decision-making power for the kids. The parenting plan outlines how the parents will cooperate and take care of the child. The amount of time that kids will spend with each parent is specified. The plan also specifies who will be in charge of the child’s health care, academic issues, and extracurricular activities.
What Are the Types of Child Custody Recognized by Florida Law?
Under Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes there are 2 types of child custody in Florida i.e. Legal and Physical custody. Florida’s child custody laws take into account the fact that children who are the subject of a divorce or legal separation should still benefit from spending time with both parents. Florida law advises that children maintain regular contact with both parents. Therefore, the rights and duties of raising a child are shared by both parents.
What is Legal Custody?
In Florida, legal custody or parental rights is the court-granted authority to parents for making important decisions regarding a child’s upbringing. This includes education, healthcare, and religious upbringing decisions. Parents have the right to determine their child’s extracurricular activities. Due to the fact that parents can share legal custody, each parent has the right to be informed and to weigh in on major decisions concerning their child.
There are two types of legal custody: sole and joint. If a parent has sole legal custody, he or she is able to make decisions for the child without the other parent’s input. Courts only grant sole legal custody if one parent is in prison or has a record of abuse or neglect. This implies that only one of the parents has the authority to make these decisions.
After a divorce, Florida courts grant parents joint legal custody, which requires the parents to work together to make decisions that will influence the development of the child. This covers the child’s place of attendance at school, the religion they were raised in, and the kind of medical attention they will get. If one parent violates a court order granting them joint legal custody by denying the other parent the ability to participate in joint decisions—for instance, if the first parent decides independently to enroll a child in school, the second parent may file a lawsuit.
What Is Sole Legal Custody?
Sole legal custody or sole parental responsibility is a court-ordered parenting arrangement in which only one parent is permitted to make decisions regarding a child. When a court grants one parent sole legal custody, they are the only ones with the authority to decide all crucial matters pertaining to the welfare of the child.
A parent with sole custody of the children has the authority and responsibility to make all short- and long-term decisions, including choosing the children’s school, their religion, and other daily activities. This does not preclude the other parent from engaging in shared parental responsibility, though, with the exception of rare and exceptional situations like abuse or untreated drug addiction.
If a parent does not have sole legal custody, they can usually spend time with their children, overnight, etc. Judges may order supervised visitation. Parents usually agree on a time-sharing schedule for their minor children. Depending on circumstances, the kids spend about equal time with each parent. An infant or toddler, for instance spend more hours with their mother since she is nursing the infant. As the child gets older, he spends more hours with the father. Overall, though, both parents spend a lot of time with the kids and are in charge of making important choices.
One parent has complete decision-making authority when they are the sole parents. It is only granted if both parents agree to it in a settlement or if a parent’s history of abuse, drug use, or criminal activity puts the children at risk. Even though it might need to be supervised or otherwise limited, parenting time generally still goes to the parent who does not receive responsibility.
What is Joint Legal Custody?
In shared parental responsibility or joint legal custody, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities when it comes to making important decisions about their child’s upbringing. This means that both parents can communicate and collaborate in order to make decisions that are in their child’s best interests.
Statute 61.046(17) of the Florida Statutes requires parents with joint custody to make decisions regarding their child’s welfare jointly.
Section 61.13(2)(c)(1) of the Florida Statutes recommends that after a divorce or separation, children maintain regular contact with both parents. Consequently, both parents should share parental rights and responsibilities.
Joint legal custody or shared parental responsibility is granted by a Florida court unless doing so would be harmful to the child in the following circumstances:
• A parent is found guilty of a domestic violence or related misdemeanor.
• A parent has a history of sexual offenses.
The parent found guilty in such circumstances is not given joint custody. The non-custodial parent may be granted visitation rights in accordance with a parenting plan, even though the court may grant the other parent sole custody.
Florida law presumes shared responsibility unless the parents settle or a judge rules it wouldn’t be in the children’s best interests.
Shared parental responsibilities can be distributed in a variety of ways. Some are listed below.
- Courts prefer situations where both parents have equal decision-making authority. In some cases, each parent may be given the right of final decision. On some issues, parents may need to decide together or they might occasionally be able to act on their own.
- In some cases, one parent has more decision-making power than the other. For example, they may be designated as the deciding factor in disagreements, or the other parent may be denied a say in certain matters.
What is Physical Custody?
Physical custody is the actual physical care and residence of the child. Physical custody is known as “timesharing” in Florida. It is referred to as the “when and where” of raising children, such as whether the child lives with one parent during the week and the other on the weekends, who is in charge of certain daily child care responsibilities, etc.
Physical custody is essentially a court or governing body-granted right stating that the parent has the right to have the child reside in his or her home. In Florida, parents are permitted to share physical custody of their child. This means the child can spend considerable time in the homes of both parents.
A parent who has physical custody has the right to have the child live with him or her. Only one parent is given physical custody. A parent usually doesn’t have sole physical custody of a child unless the court decides that the other parent is unfit. Physical custody can also be split evenly between both parents, or the child can live with one parent most of the time. If the child spends more time with one parent than the other, the home of the parent with whom the child spends the most time is usually considered the child’s primary residence.
The following factors are used by the courts to determine which parent should be granted physical custody of a child. Courts consider several factors to determine which parent should be granted physical custody of a child, including.
- Which parent has been the primary caretaker of the child historically,
- Which parent has the resources and support to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs in the future, and
- Which parent resides in the child’s current school district.
If the child is of an age where the court believes he or she is able to make a rational decision, the child’s preference regarding which parent he or she lives with is taken into account. As is the case with all decisions involving children, the court’s primary concern is the child’s welfare.
There are two types of physical custody: sole and shared physical custody. Sole physical custody is typically granted to just one parent. The other parent still has some visitation rights. Joint physical custody is granted only when both parents reside close to one another. Sharing physical custody put a significant strain on the child’s wellbeing in cases where the parents live far apart because doing so would require a lot of travel.
What is Sole Physical Custody?
Sole parenting time, formerly known as sole physical custody, refers to situations in which the child spends the majority of his or her time with one parent and that parent also becomes the primary decision-maker in the child’s life. In Florida, sole legal custody is nearly impossible because Florida believes that, except in extreme circumstances, both parents should participate in making decisions about their children. Although it is extremely uncommon, parents can agree to give one parent sole custody, but this does not exempt the other parent from paying child support.
What is Joint Physical Custody
Shared parenting time was formerly called joint physical custody. Florida does not practice “joint custody” but rather “shared custody.” In shared custody, parents collaborate to make decisions for the child, with neither parent having more influence than the other. In Florida, parents can share physical custody of a child, meaning that the child can spend significant time in each parent’s home. Joint physical custody is typically awarded only if both parents live nearby.
Florida courts want children to know both parents. Except in extremely rare cases, parents receive shared parenting time, formerly known as joint physical custody.
Under Florida Statute 61.13, the state of Florida favors joint custody, in which both parents share parental responsibilities and timesharing.
A judge may grant joint physical custody to two parents who live in close proximity and are able to fairly or at least nearly equally divide day-to-day parental responsibilities such as school pickup. Typically, this means that children spend equal time with each parent during a given month.
The two types of shared parenting time are listed below.
- Each parent spends approximately 50 percent of their time with their children.
- One parent spends more time with their child than the other. Any division is possible, including 80/20, 65/35, and so on.
Special circumstances, such as child abuse or criminal activity, can restrict a parent’s time-sharing rights. For instance, the parent’s visitation may be restricted to daytime or public settings.
What Methods Are Used to Resolve Child Custody in a Florida Divorce?
Child custody is resolved in a Florida divorce using methods such as child custody mediation, collaborative child custody proceedings, parenting coordination, arbitration and trial & litigation.
Divorce mediation involves a neutral trained professional meeting with both parents to assist them in resolving their disagreements and finding co-parenting solutions that are appropriate for their circumstances and needs. Court orders for divorce mediation are issued in certain child custody cases under Fla. Stat. 44.102.
Both parents can ask for mediation to settle a custody disagreement, and the court may also impose it. When the parties opt for mediation, they work with a mediator or impartial third party who tries to assist them in coming to a resolution of their disagreement. The mediator makes an introduction before asking each party to present their case during a mediation session. The mediator then facilitates negotiations and leads the parties to a resolution. If they are able to come to an understanding, the mediator further help them create the written agreement that will be submitted to the court for approval.
Mediation for parental responsibilities help parents avoid hostile, stressful, or traumatic court battles and achieve the child’s best interests. Florida requires mediation for all contested custody or visitation cases. A neutral, dispute-resolution-trained third party helps parents resolve conflict through mediation. If mediation fails, a judge hears the case. Everything said during mediation is confidential and may only be repeated to the other party or their attorneys. Mediation usually resolves parental responsibility cases faster and gives parents more control. Private and court-appointed mediators are the main sources of mediation. Through non-adversarial means, mediation seeks to change a dispute from a “win-lose” to a “win-win” situation.
The mediator discusses the following with parents.
- What will be the visitation arrangements?
- How much life or health insurance will parents provide for their children?
- Which parent will cover unplanned medical or dental expenses?
- Who will make decisions on education, health, and religion?
- How will parents share future unexpected costs?
The mediation process reminds parents to act in the best interests of their children. Mediation is a quicker alternative to resolving the contentious issues that can arise during custody negotiations. Among the procedure’s advantages are:
- Encourage parents to collaborate on problem-solving.
- A chance for parents to demonstrate their commitment to their children.
- A faster way to reach a custody and visitation agreement that benefits the whole family.
Meditation Often Works in Child Custody Cases because.
- In Florida, every custody dispute is unique. A strategy that is successful for one family might simply not be appropriate for another. The ability to completely customize mediation is one of its main benefits. The mediator, the parents, and their legal representatives may spend the majority of the session together.
- A custody and visitation agreement need not be made at mediation. Parties have every right to ask for the mediation process to end if the child’s other parent refuses to cooperate or behave reasonably.
Mediation helps resolve many child custody difficulties listed here.
- Decisions regarding categories of custody, such as shared versus joint custody, sole custody, and legal custody issues.
- Determining if one parent will be the principal custodial parent.
- Determining which parent has legal custody of the child.
- Proposing alterations or modifications to an existing child custody arrangement.
Collaborative Child Custody Proceedings
Under Florida statutes 61.56 (4), Collaborative child custody proceedings is a method for resolving child custody disputes that allows parties to collaborate with their attorneys to find mutually agreeable solutions without court intervention. Each party retains a separate collaborative attorney, and together they search for a solution that benefits both the parents and the kids. The basic principle of collaborative child custody proceedings is open communication, which gives both parties the chance to voice their concerns and goals. Its goal is to identify solutions that guarantee the best result for the children concerned.
Instead of courthouse sessions, collaborative practice involves private office discussions. The facilitator is usually a mental health expert who can assist parties resolve uncomfortable and emotional difficulties.
The Collaborative Law Process Act was enacted by the Florida legislature to facilitate the settlement of family law disputes, including child custody, outside of court. Essentially, the Act establishes uniformity for attorneys who practice collaborative law throughout Florida. By design, Collaborative Law is a non-adversarial form of dispute resolution in which the Husband and Wife in a divorce or the parents in a child custody matter devote all of their time, energy, and other resources to reaching an amicable agreement as opposed to fighting it out in front of a Florida Family Law Judge. The children of the parties’ benefit because they are not subjected to a tug-of-war or forced to choose between their parents.
The collaborative child custody proceedings make it possible to reach an agreement on a parenting plan in a child custody dispute. Parenting plan outlines how parental responsibility will be shared for the children. The parenting plan addresses issues including where the children will reside, how they will be reared, and how decisions regarding their care will be made.
The collaborative facilitator assists in determining the appropriate forum for a child’s expression of desires. Once the parties have reached a comprehensive agreement, their attorneys file the necessary documents to have a judge approve their parenting plan and issue a legally binding child custody order.
Child custody disputes are the most contentious and emotionally charged types of cases, and they require special attention. Family law attorneys frequently engage in collaborative law, always keeping the well-being of children in mind. Child custody collaborative proceedings enables each party to negotiate more effectively by relying on the counsel of their attorneys. Family members and financial professionals are available if needed.
Child custody issues take into consideration specific sets of circumstances, such as stress, anxiety, and fear of the possibility of going to court because every family is unique. Most clients find it simpler on legal, emotional, and financial levels to reach an agreement when there is less stress and a strong commitment to resolution. This is largely attributable to the client’s active role in identifying crucial issues. These issues serve as the settlement’s focal point, and the attorney works to foster cooperation by communicating them to the opposing party.
Collaborative child custody proceedings enable attorneys to better comprehend and identify their clients’ requirements and concerns. The attorney becomes the family’s advocate, conveying the family’s requirements and interests to the opposing party. When both parties’ attorneys commit to this process, stress is significantly reduced and the groundwork for a resolution is laid.
In Florida, collaborative child custody proceedings benefit parents and children in multiple ways.
- The collaborative procedure empowers parents to make child-related choices without going to court. This can shorten and lower child custody costs.
- The minor children of the parties gain because they are not forced to choose between their parents or put in a position where they feel they must.
- This saves the parties money because the attorneys are not doing the customary opposition research, move practice, and deposition-taking that consume a large portion of legal invoices.
The goal of collaborative law is to establish a friendly atmosphere that resolves disputes fairly while taking less time and money than going to court.
Collaborative child custody proceedings are effective as it promotes Child-Centered Approach. The collaborative attorneys try to come up with a child custody plan that takes into account the particular requirements and worries of the kids. This strategy makes sure the kids aren’t caught in the middle of a messy legal dispute and puts their emotional health first.
The challenges involved with collaborative child custody proceedings include willingness and commitment. All parties must be willing and committed to collaborative legislation, which is difficult. To succeed, collaborative law requires complete and honest participation from all parties. A party’s lack of commitment or misgivings about the process might damage the whole process and derail negotiations.
Parents may choose Parenting Coordination as an alternative to collaborative procedures since it offers a child-centered, alternative dispute-resolution process. The creation of a workable parenting plan and time-sharing arrangement is assisted by parenting coordination.
Under section 61.125(2) of Florida Statutes, Parenting coordination is an alternative dispute resolution method that puts the needs of the child first. A parenting coordinator helps parents create or carry out a parenting plan by assisting in the resolution of disagreements between them. They do this by offering advice, educating the parties, and, with the consent of the parties and the court, making limited decisions that fall within the parameters of the court’s order of referral.
The parenting coordinator is an impartial third party appointed by the court or agreed upon by the parties whose role is to assist the parties in successfully creating or implementing a parenting plan. Parenting coordinators must be licensed as a mental health professional, a doctor, a family law mediator, or a lawyer.
Parents in Florida who have filed for divorce may agree to have a parenting coordinator appointed to their case to assist them in establishing a parenting schedule. If one of the parents wants it or the judge determines it would be suitable, the judge may also choose to appoint a coordinator.
A Parenting Plan can be included with a divorce petition if the parents have already agreed on child custody. As unexpected problems occur later in the child’s life, parents frequently enlist the help of parenting coordinators to facilitate dialogues.
Parenting coordination is effective as it helps parents resolve disagreements by educating them, giving recommendations, and, with the parents’ and the court’s prior consent, making some choices that fall within the parameters of the court’s order of referral.
Parenting Coordination is Child-Centered as divorce negotiations can have long-term effects on children, who may suffer emotionally or developmentally. Parents are encouraged and even compelled to participate in parenting coordination. A parenting coordinator who has received specialized training is assigned to a case as part of parenting coordination. This person is then tasked with.
- Assisting the parents in resolving disputes over parenting time.
- Informing parents about the developmental requirements of their children at particular stages.
- Advising parents when it comes to making decisions regarding childcare.
- Facilitating enforcement of the parenting plan once it has been established.
Parenting coordinators are permitted to advise families on negotiation strategies and the kinds of provisions that ought to be in a parenting plan. With the judge’s and parents’ prior consent, they may even make limited decisions about the particulars of a child’s parenting plan.
Child Custody Arbitration
Under Section 44.103 (a) of Florida Statutes, Any child custody case filed in a circuit or county court may be referred to non-binding arbitration by a court in accordance with rules set by the Supreme Court, and Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.820 lays out the mechanics for referrals and practice processes.
Arbitration is a process by which the parties can resolve temporary and permanent custody and parental time issues through motions and, if necessary, with the assistance of a neutral third-party fact-finder known as an arbitrator. It is a more structured method of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party decides after hearing each side’s arguments. In a case involving child custody, the arbitrator’s decision is not necessarily final, and the parties may be able to resolve important issues at a later time, prior to going to court.
The benefits of using arbitration to resolve child custody disputes are listed below. Arbitration process have some benefits in resolving child custody disputes.
- Encourage parents to collaborate on problem-solving.
- A chance for parents to demonstrate their commitment to their children.
- A faster way to reach a custody and visitation agreement that benefits the whole family.
- Arbitration can be effective in resolving the disputes listed here.
- Any disagreement between parents or those with a significant stake in a child’s ongoing or future welfare.
- Identify suitable living arrangements for children, including shared arrangements.
- Arrangements for visiting, including holiday time with non-resident parents.
- Disputes about non-life-threatening medical treatment.
Arbitration, mediation, and collaborative law are all voluntary alternatives to traditional litigation, only arbitration involves a third-party arbitrator. The parties’ contract with a third party, typically an experienced family law counsel or retired judge, to resolve all or a portion of their disputes. Typically, the arbitrator supervises discovery, hears testimony, examines evidence, and reaches a decision termed an “award”, which must be confirmed by a court in order to be enforceable.
Trial and Litigation
In Florida, child custody disputes can be resolved through trial and litigation. Litigation refers to a situation in which both spouses are unable to agree on certain terms or issues pertaining to their child custody case and go to court to have a judge decide their case. The procedure of bringing a child custody case to court is litigation. The judge consider all pertinent issues and circumstances. The court may grant sole custody to one parent or joint custody to both parents. In Florida, child custody cases may be contested and resolved by court order, or uncontested and defined by an agreement between the parents. If the parents are unable to resolve the contentious issues, they file a Notice of Trial to request a trial.
Florida law generally assumes that parents know what is best for their children, but divorced parents occasionally find it difficult to come to a compromise on child custody matters. When this occurs, courts make a decision. In certain circumstances, a court may establish a parenting plan that divides up visitation and custody time between the parents.
Florida is one of only a few states that allows private judicial proceedings in child custody matters. This alternative, also known as voluntary trial resolution or private trial, requires parents to employ a skilled lawyer or a retired public judge to resolve their case. The private judge conducts hearings and issues immediate enforceable temporary orders and final decisions.
Litigation is useful when the parties are too contentious to deal with each other civilly. Some of the benefits of litigation include.
- If unhappy with the decision of the child custody case, parties can file an appeal.
- If there is physical or emotional abuse, litigation is a better choice.
Under Florida Statute 61.13(3) (2023), courts examine any history of domestic violence, any evidence of substance misuse, and any evidence that either parent has lied to the court. In Maradie v. Maradie, 680 So.2d 538 (Fla. Ct. App. 1996), the Florida courts ruled that judges should consider whether the parents’ conduct has directly affected the welfare of the child. These are only a few of the factors outlined by Florida law. The courts may also consider any other relevant factors.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act governs child custody jurisdiction and enforcement in Florida. Florida courts can issue custody orders for children who have lived in the state for at least six months before the divorce or custody case under Florida Statute 61.503, 61.514 (2023). The UCCJEA rules are complicated, with many exceptions. When courts in Florida or other states that have established the UCCJEA, issue custody orders, they have exclusive authority over that child’s custody unless certain conditions change, such as when both parents and the kid move out of the state. Under Florida Statute 61.515-61.516, a Florida judge cannot change a custody order from another state without meeting severe jurisdictional standards.
What Factors Are Considered In Determining Child Custody?
The following factors are considered by Florida courts when determining child custody or time-sharing agreements.
- Best Interests of the Child
- Child’s Preference
- Child’s Relationship With Each Parent
- Mental and Physical Health of the Parents
- Parental History of Mental or Physical Abuse
- Parent’s Ability to Provide for the Child’s Needs
These statues are codified under Fla. Statute 61.13.
Best Interests of the Child
The standard of the child’s best interests is the basis for the majority of custody decisions, with the court prioritizing the child’s protection, wellbeing, and stability. This factor protects children’s mental, emotional, and physical health and ensures their parents are capable of raising them well.
The court decides who is most suited to care for a child and what actions will benefit them. It considers the child’s requirements and who can best provide them.
For example, if the parent is unsuitable to be alone with the child, the court will likely give the other parent sole physical custody and the unfit parent supervised visitation.
The following criteria are used to determine which parent serves the child’s best interests.:
- Prepare a parenting plan. Creating a parenting plan proposal to demonstrate that you consider the care and protection of a child seriously.
- Keep track of parenting time. The best interest of the child criteria benefits parents who spend time with their kids. The parent who spends the most time with the child has a better chance of getting custody because the child knows them.
- Keep a log of child-related expenses such as childcare, school supply, clothes, and other expenses to demonstrate child’s care.
- Get reliable child care. Make sure that the child has a safe, trusted place to go when parents are working or unavailable.
- Know the child’s interests. This could include understanding their favorite color, dietary preferences, extracurricular, etc.
Courts examine the following elements while deciding the child’s best interests.
- The relationship between a parent and a child.
- The child’s preference.
- Child’s age and gender. Young children require more hands-on attention.
- Parental mental and physical health.
- Special needs of children and their care.
- Religious or cultural factors.
- Stable home environment.
- Relevant children’s custody.
- Child’s interaction with extended family.
- Family interactions.
- Parenting style.
The parent who the court finds best serves the child’s interests the most is likely to be given custody of the child. Parents and courts take into account aspects such as the child’s Happiness, Safety, Mental Health, and Emotional Development for determining child custody.
The court may regard the child’s preference in determining custody, especially if the youngster is older or mature. Older children may be mature enough to express a preference, according to the state. Through a Guardian ad Litem appointed by the court, a child’s preference may be considered in the case when appropriate. According to Jeffers v. McLeary, the judge may consider the children’s preferences when determining the terms of the parental plan in custody cases. A child cannot choose which parent they reside with in Florida, but they may be permitted to express a preference.
The Florida custody law does not give parents any preference when determining child custody. The judge may consider the child’s age, maturity, judgment and reasonable wishes while determining custody. According to Garvey v. Garvey, the court cannot base a parenting plan solely on the child’s preference.
In Florida, no age is set for when courts must consider a child’s preference. The age at which a child can choose which parent to reside with depends on the specifics of the case. The following parameters help a judge determine if the child’s preference should be used to determine which parent receives custody.
- If the child is intelligent enough to make a choice.
- Child understands the decision he/she is making.
- Child has sufficient experience with both parents for meaningful decision-making.
For instance, In a Florida case involving a son and a daughter, the son preferred living with his father, and evidence revealed that the son’s mother neglected his activities and frequently left him alone during the week. Nonetheless, the court could not transfer custody of the daughter to the father because the daughter and mother had a close relationship and the daughter preferred residing with her mother.
The court doesn’t make a custody judgment only on a child’s stated preference, the judge examines it along with all other relevant circumstances.
Child’s Relationship with Each Parent
Child’s Relationship with Each Parent refers to the nature and quality of each parent’s relationship with their offspring. Considered factors include parental involvement, emotional bond, and the ability of each parent to satisfy the physical and emotional needs of the child. The court considers which parent has provided primary care for the child and the impact of any potential disruptions to the child’s routine and stability.
Mental and Physical Health of the Parents
The mental and physical health of each parent is an important factor when considering which parent is awarded custody. Mental and physical health problems of the parents can negatively impact the child’s well-being. Physical impairments in a parent can limit their capacity to care for the child, and mental disorders like depression or anxiety can limit their capacity to create a secure and caring environment for the child.
In determining time-sharing and parental responsibility, a judge would take into account,, a parent’s mental or physical ailment that impairs their ability to provide adequate care for the child.
Parental History of Mental or Physical Abuse
The court could be hesitant to give one parent custody if they have a history of mental or physical abuse, especially if the child has suffered because of the parent’s actions.
In disputes over child custody, accusations of domestic violence or abuse are treated very seriously. The judge may refuse to award joint custody if one of the parents has a history of domestic violence. When one parent accuses the other of domestic abuse or violence, the charges are subject to a thorough inquiry. When deciding on custody, the court takes any prior incidents of domestic violence or abuse into account. If the court determines that one of the accused parents constitutes a risk to the child or the victim’s other parent, it may refuse custody to that parent.
Alcohol and drug misuse are both examples of substance abuse. Being in a family with an addict or someone who abuses drugs is not in the best interests of the child. When substance abuse is present, there is a higher chance of abuse, neglect, and other harms.
The court may impose supervised visitation or set limits on the abusive parent’s contact with the child in situations where there has been a history of abuse. In extreme circumstances, the court may completely revoke the abusive parent’s parental rights.
A parent may be seen more positively by the court if they have made action to address their addiction and keep sober.
Parent’s Ability to Provide for the Child’s Needs
The ability to provide for a child’s needs is an important factor and more than a financial obligation. Parental involvement in the child’s education, extracurricular activities, and social life is essential. A child’s needs is also met by providing a clean and secure home. In addition, it involves fostering a close relationship between the child and the other parent and helping the child develop healthful habits.
The following are considered by courts when determining a parent’s ability to provide for their child’s needs.
- The parents’ ability to satisfy the child’s needs, including work schedules, living circumstances, and other responsibilities that may affect consistency.
- The parents’ financial stability determines their ability to support the child.
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs.
- Stability and continuity of the child’s environment. The court may be reluctant to break up a long-term relationship between a kid and one parent unless there are compelling reasons.
The court may also consider the child’s relationships with grandparents, siblings, and other close relatives. When determining custody, the court may consider whether the child has a personal relationship with a particular family member.
How Long Does a Child Custody Case in Florida Take?
Child custody cases in Florida can take months depending on the judge’s schedule and the complexity of the case. If both parties reach a satisfactory parental agreement, the court may sanction their written plan without delay. In such situations, child custody cases may be resolved within days. Family law disputes are frequently crowded in the majority of courts, particularly for custody issues, and a delay of two to three months for a court date is reasonable.
What Are the Steps Involved in Florida Parental Responsibility Case?
The process of filing for parental responsibility or child custody in Florida include the following steps.
Step 1: Research, Preparation, & Form Completion
Step 2: Filing Necessary Forms
Step 3: Attend Parenting Classes
Step 4: Mandatory Disclosure (Discovery)
Step 5: Mediation & Negotiation
Step 6: Pre-Trial Conference with Judge
Step 7: Case Goes to Trial
Step 8: Final Judgment Issued by Court
Step 1: Research & Preparation
The First step in the Florida responsibility case is to research and review the most common mistakes about Florida custody laws and other resources for parents before beginning the case. Thinking about the parenting plan and time-sharing schedule that will help the kids the most. Eventually, employing a lawyer to assist with developing a legal strategy, filling out paperwork, examining documents and representation in court.
Step 2: Filing Necessary Forms
Filling out forms is the next step in a Florida parental responsibility case. All forms are printed or typed in black ink, and many must be signed in the presence of a court clerk or notary public.
All parental responsibility and time-sharing cases include a cover page, an affidavit under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.
These forms are filled as per the case below:
- Petition for Dissolution with Dependent or Minor Children is needed to initiate a divorce lawsuit alongside parental responsibility. If either parent moves more than 50 miles, the Petition for Dissolution with Dependent or Minor Children and Relocation is filed.
- Parenting plans with time-sharing are requested by separated but not divorcing parents using the Petition for Parenting Plan Unconnected with Dissolution with Dependent or Minor Children.
- To get a temporary court order for responsibility, time-sharing, and childcare expenditures, file for the Motion for Temporary Support, Time-Sharing, and Other Relief with Dependent or Minor Children.
- Petition for an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence, also known as a restraining order is filed, if the child’s safety is threatened by the other parent.
The lawsuit begins when parents petition their local circuit court. The petitioner is the parent who starts the case, while the respondent is the other. Service requires the petitioner to notify the respondent after filing. Petition is responded to or extended by the other parent within 20 days of service. The respondent can challenge the petition completely or partially. They can add a counter petition to request something not in initial filing or offer a new time-sharing scheme. Answer to Counter petition is required if they counter petition. If the other parent doesn’t react or request an extension before the deadline, a Motion for Default is filed. After the judge grants the motion, the case moves forward without the other parent.
Step 3: Attend Parenting Classes
Both parents take the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course from an accredited provider within 45 days of opening a case in Florida. The four-hour class teaches parents how divorce affects families. Parents can do the class alone.
Florida Statute Chapter 61.21 requires a 4-hour course to educate, train, and help divorcing parents on the effects of divorce on them and their children.
Step 4: Mandatory Disclosure (Discovery)
Parents share information so that both sides are aware of what the other is preparing. This stage can persist in the background for several months or even a year as the subsequent steps unfold.
Parents are required to submit child support documents and financial affidavits to the court and to each other within the first 45 days of the case. This is known as mandatory disclosure. The case might also need formal discovery, which might involve subpoenas, formal discovery requests, and sworn interviews with parents and witnesses called depositions.
If a parent requests a temporary order that can’t wait until the case is over, the judge schedule a hearing. Judges and parents can request conferences. Case management conferences are held during discovery if the judge has to address evidence disputes, enforce regulations, or issue orders to forward the process. After discovery, the court may hold a case management conference to schedule mediation, hearings, a guardian ad litem, a social investigation, etc.
Step 5: Mediation & Negotiation
If the case continues without a settlement, mediation is required. The mediator assists parents in resolving conflicts and developing a parenting plan in the best interests of the children. A minimum of one three-hour session is required. If parents reach an agreement during mediation, they submit it to the court for approval and proceed to Step 8.
If partial settlement is reached, they submit a partial settlement to court and follow the steps below to resolve the remaining difficulties. In case of disagreement, the lawsuit continues.
Step 6: Pre-Trial Conference with Judge
The majority of judges mandate a pre-trial conference between parents and their attorneys. At the conference, the judge establishes the trial’s ground rules and may lastly urge settlement.
Step 7: Case Goes to Trial
If parents disagree on all issues, they go to trial, where each parent have the chance to present evidence and question witnesses before a judge. A trial can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months in the most complex cases. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge or general magistrate announces his or her verdict.
Step 8: Final Judgment Issued by Court
A final Judgment issued by court ends litigation. It comprises a parenting plan with legal terms parents must follow until children reach 18 or become emancipated. Children and families change, thus judgments may need updating. Parents can seek the court to change a plan or time-sharing schedule if they can’t agree.
Parents can appeal a ruling for legal reasons such as factual errors or power abuse. Parents have several contesting alternatives. A parent has 10 days after the trial to request a judge’s hearing to present evidence of the general magistrate’s error or misconduct. Either parent can appeal to the district court within 30 days of the final ruling.
What is a Parenting Plan in the State of Florida?
A parenting plan is a document outlining the parental responsibilities, time sharing schedules, decision-making responsibilities of each parent regarding the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. All of the following items are included in a Florida parenting plan.
- The time-sharing schedule, which details how much time the child will spend with each parent.
- The email, phone, and other ways parents will communicate with the child.
- Who will be accountable for all types of health care.
- Who will be responsible for school-related matters and extracurricular activities, such as determining the child’s school registration address?
- How the parents will divide up the daily responsibilities and decision-making authority associated with bringing up the child.
A parenting plan may be created, accepted by the parents, and approved by the judge under Florida Statutes 61.13(2) (b) and 61.046(13). If the judge disapproves of the parenting plan adopted by the parents or if the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, the judge may choose to create his or her own parenting plan.
A parenting plan may be approved, granted, or modified by the court based on how well it addresses the child’s best interests.
What are the Requirements of a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan in a Florida divorce must meet certain minimum requirements. Statute 61.13 of the State of Florida lays out these minimum requirements. The following are the fundamental requirements for a parental plan in Florida.
- A Florida parenting plan must outline each parent’s involvement in the child’s life. Florida parenting plans must determine which parent will provide meals, transportation, clothes, bathing, and other moral, emotional, and logistical assistance for the minor child.
- The time the child will spend with each parent must be specified in the plan. Any reasonable design could be appropriate as long as both parents get time with the child.
- In a Florida divorce, the parent who provides health care for the child must be mentioned. Both parents’ consent should be requested for mental health treatment if the parties share parental responsibility, which means that both parents must consult on any key choices affecting the child.
- A parenting plan requires school designation authority. The plan must identify which parent’s residence is used for school-boundary determination and registration. This can greatly affect timesharing and a parent’s relocation request.
- Include the time-sharing schedule that specifies how much time the minor will spend with each parent.
- Providing sufficient details about the parents’ communication techniques and technologies. A Florida divorce parenting plan must address parent-child communication. If parties utilize Skype, Google Duo, FaceTime, texting, phone calls, mail, or other communication methods.
- Another minimal requirement is that parents share parenting responsibility unless it harms the child. If one parent is convicted of domestic violence, the non-convicted parent has a rebuttable presumption of primary parenting responsibility.
- The rights and obligations of each parent in raising the child and how they will split daily activities.
What Are the Types of Parenting Plans in Florida?
There are three types of parenting plans in Florida. Each requires slightly different information and offers flexibility based on the specifics of the situation. The three types of parenting plan in Florida are Basic Parenting Plan, Long-Distance Parenting Plan and, Safety-Focused Parenting Plan.
What is a Basic Parenting Plan?
The basic plan is the simplest plan, with the most fundamental details on parenting time, decision-making, and financial support.
The Basic Plan is ideal in the following circumstances.
- Communicate reasonably well.
- Agree on most areas of shared parenting responsibility and time-sharing.
- Don’t have a history of marital violence, child abuse, or substance misuse.
- Don’t want to live more than 50 miles apart.
The basic plan requires only the mandatory information for all Florida parenting plans.
What is a Long-Distance Parenting Plan?
The Long-Distance Plan is the optimal option in the following circumstances.
- Plan to live more than 50 miles apart but within the same court’s jurisdiction.
- Agree on shared responsibilities and time-sharing.
- Very good communication skills.
- No history of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance addiction.
The long-distance plan is also known as the relocation plan. It necessitates additional information regarding the travel of children between homes. Long distance parenting plan establishes rules for how children communicate with one parent while in the custody of the other.
It is similar to the basic plan, but it contains additional details for long-distance arrangements, such as transportation planning and communication protocols. Parents may want to create a long-distance parenting plan if they are on good terms, agree to share responsibility, and have no history of violence or substance abuse.
What is a Safety-Focused Parenting Plan?
The safety-focused parenting plan is most effective if children or parents are in danger due to adverse conditions, such as domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or criminal activity.
This plan prioritizes the physical safety of children while preserving parent-child relationships. The risky parent receives either unsupervised timesharing with no overnight visits or supervised time sharing only with other restrictions, such as parenting time only in public locations. This type of plan may also include restrictions on firearms, physical discipline, substance abuse by parents, and who is permitted to have contact with children.
The court may refuse a parent time-sharing and award complete custody to a single parent in exceptional cases for the children’s best interests. Safety-focused and long-distance plans can be combined if parents reside more than 50 miles apart.
Specific aspects in the safety-focused plan include when and how to pick up and drop off children, how parents should communicate with each other about children’s needs, who is authorized to make choices on behalf of the children, and so on. If the children’s safety is jeopardized, the court may completely prohibit a parent’s time-sharing. This would be included in a plan that prioritizes child protection.
What Are the Components of a Parenting Plan (Custody Order)
The Components of a parenting plan are Parental Responsibility, Time-Sharing Schedule, Communication Guidelines, Relocation, Travel Arrangements, Child Support Payments, Parental Conduct, Dispute Resolution, Education and Health Care.
In Florida, parental responsibility refers to the shared obligation of both parents to raise a child. It consists of two parts: parental responsibility and time-sharing. Parental responsibility refers to the rights and responsibilities each parent will have in relation to their children, whereas time-sharing outlines the specifics of when, how, and where the children will spend time with each parent.
The parental decision-making component of the parenting plan is parental responsibility. In Florida, parental responsibility is determined based on “the Best Interest of the Child.” A Florida court must order shared parental responsibility unless doing so would harm the child. Shared parental responsibility signifies that both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with regard to the child and must collaborate on significant decisions such as health care, religious upbringing, and education. Florida law presumes that neither parent has a superior claim when determining parental rights and responsibilities. The court may decree sole parental responsibility if shared responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
The parenting plan includes a comprehensive time-sharing schedule that specifies how the child will spend time with each parent. This schedule takes into account the child’s age, education obligations, and proximity to both parents’ homes. Including specifics such as the weekly routine, holidays, birthdays, school breaks, and special occasions provides stability and consistency for the child, nurturing a healthy co-parenting relationship.
Time share refers to the amount of time the infant is physically present with each parent. Timesharing affects the quantity of child support a parent pays. If an approved parenting plan requires a parent to spend more than 20% of overnights per year with the child, the parent receives a reduction in child support payments.
A successful parenting plan requires that parents communicate effectively. The parental plan contains communication guidelines that encourage positive and cooperative interactions. Parents can establish preferable communication channels, such as email or a co-parenting app, and set response time expectations. Both parents should have access to the child’s communication channels, but the parenting plan should define the channels and permissible use. This ensures that neither parent interferes with the custody time of the other.
The plan for parent communication should include the means by which parents will communicate and the timeframe within which they must respond. Parents can also set minimum and maximum frequency requirements for parental contact. The parent-child electronic communications statute went into effect on October 1, 2007, allowing courts to order electronic forms of communication such as telephone, webcams, and e-mail to supplement time-sharing and parental time.
Florida Statute 61.13001 defines relocation as a change in the location of a parent or other person’s principal residence from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order. For a change of residence to qualify as a relocation, it must be at least 50 miles away from the current residence and planned for at least 60 consecutive days. A brief absence from the primary domicile for medical care, vacation, or educational purposes does not constitute a relocation.
A parent who wishes to relocate must either obtain the other parent’s written consent, which must be approved by the court, or submit a Petition to Relocate if the other parent objects to the move. Parents who relocate a child or children without following the Florida Relocation Statute may be charged with contempt and sued to return the child. Relocating a child without the other parent’s and court’s permission can affect relocation approval. If the parenting plan is to be modified, and if the parent seeking relocation, must pay the other parent’s expenses and attorney’s fees. In summary, relocating a child without legal permission could result in child custody loss.
It is unacceptable to travel with the children contrary to the court-ordered custody plan without first consulting the other parent. Parents must provide adequate notice to the other parent and may be required to provide an itinerary. Moving away with a child without the court’s permission falls under the category of parenting plan violations.
Child Support Payments
Payments made by one parent to another to ensure the financial well-being and upbringing of their child or children are child support payments. The parenting plan addresses the financial obligations associated with raising a child. This ensures that the plan includes a clear and equitable agreement regarding financial matters, which provides stability for the child and reduces the likelihood of future parental conflict.
The parenting plan includes medical and health care provisions that specify who will take the child to medical appointments, whether the child will receive vaccinations, and what will occur during a pandemic.
Consideration is given to the child’s welfare when determining what is in their best interest. If a child has a chronic health condition, the court ensures that the child receives the necessary care and support to manage it. The court may award custody to a parent with greater experience or knowledge in caring for the child’s particular health needs. The mental health of the child is also a crucial factor. If the child has a history of mental health issues, the court ensures that they receive the treatment and support they require to meet their requirements.
In determining the parental plan, the educational requirements of the child are another crucial component. When making custody, visitation, and parenting plan decisions, the courts consider the caliber of the local schools, the academic performance of the child, and the availability of educational resources. If the child has special educational requirements, the court considers each parent’s ability to meet those needs and the availability of support services and resources.
The education information in the parental plan can include whether and where the child will attend summer school, as well as who will serve as the school’s emergency contact. Parents include information regarding the extracurricular activities in which the child will participate and who may attend.
If the parents disagree on a parenting decision, the parenting plan specifies the conflict resolution procedures and the method for reaching a decision. Parents may appoint a neutral third party to assist in negotiations or provide specific guidelines that govern the selection.
The friendly parenting provision is typically regarded by courts as the most important component of the parenting plan. The friendly parenting plan is the demonstrated ability and disposition of each parent to support and promote a close and ongoing parent-child relationship, to adhere to the time-sharing schedule, and to be fair when modifications are necessary.
How Are the Details of a Parenting Plan Determined?
Under Section 61.13(2)(b) of the florida statute, the Details of parenting plan such as Custody and Visitation Schedule, Decision-Making Authority, Communication and Contact, Transportation and Exchange, Child Support, Relocation and Dispute Resolution are determined keeping the well-being and best interest of the child. These details of parenting plan is determined by parents, mediators, lawyers, courts, and child custody evaluators considering all state requirements
Who Has Final Approval of a Parenting Plan?
Parenting plans signed by both parents in Florida are considered legally binding contracts, but they are subject to court approval. If a parent raises an objection to a parenting plan after it has been signed but before the court enters an order ratifying the plan, the court must consider the child’s best interest.
The Parenting Plan is developed by the parents with their agreement and court approval. If the parties are unable to agree on a Parenting Plan or if the parents agreed to a plan that is not approved by the court, the court will establish a Parenting Plan, with or without the use of parenting plan recommendations.
Can a Parenting Plan Be Modified?
Yes, Florida law 61.13 does permit modifications to parental plans.
The Florida courts will only modify a parenting plan if at least one of the following conditions is met:
- There is a risk to the children’s safety.
- The child would greatly benefit.
- A parent’s circumstances have changed , preventing them from fulfilling parental responsibilities and time-sharing.
A substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances is required to modify the parental plan. The proposed alterations must be in the best interest of the child.
The determination of whether a substantial change has occurred is made on a case-by-case basis. The following circumstances will almost always be considered substantial.
- Parental death
- Child abuse
- Conviction of a crime resulting in long-term incarceration
- Multiple DUI arrests while the child was in the vehicle
A Florida court of family law is likely to designate a change substantial when multiple factors are present. According to Farrow v. Farrow, allegations of substance abuse are generally insufficient to be considered substantive unless the child’s abuse poses a risk. According to Perez v. Perez, alterations in a parent’s health or financial condition are typically insufficient to qualify as substantial. However, if the change is accompanied by another factor, it may be considered substantial.
As children mature and circumstances evolve, it may be necessary to modify the parenting plan to better meet the requirements of the child. If there is a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances affecting the child’s welfare, either parent may request a modification to the custody plan.
What Happens if One Parent Refuses to Follow the Parenting Plan
If a parent refuses to follow the parenting plan, the other parent may file a Motion for Contempt, requesting that the court enforce its decision. The following punishments may be imposed by the court.
- The wronged parent is awarded extra time with child
- The violating parent must attend mandatory parenting classes
- The non-compliant parent must complete community service
- The violating parent must pay legal and attorney’s fees for enforcing the parenting plan.
By altering or modifying an existing parenting plan, a parent may be able to avoid penalties for noncompliance.
If a parent has valid grounds for not following the parenting plan, they can ask the court to change the time sharing agreement and avoid penalties. A parent may submit Form 12.905(a), the “Supplemental Petition to Modify Parental Responsibility, Visitation or Parenting Plan,” under the following conditions.
- Parents struggle to maintain timesharing due to living environment changes.
- Parents struggle to financially support their child owing to employment, wages, or health status changes.
- There is proof of child abuse or neglect in the other parent’s home, or the parent has alcohol or drug issues that put the child at risk.
Motion for Contempt
If a parent violates a child custody arrangement, the other parent may submit a contempt of court complaint. After a violation, filing a contempt complaint usually involves the following steps.
- File a contempt of court motion and complaint in the same court as the child custody arrangement.
- Explain how the other partner failed to pay child support or denied access to the child during planned parenting time.
- Deliver a copy of the motion and complaint to the opposing parent or their attorney.
- Wait for the court to set a date for the hearing.
- Attend the court and bring all relevant evidence to support the case for violations of the custody order.
It is also critical to provide all essential facts in the complaint for contempt of court. This will include pertinent dates and times, a narrative of the facts, any written material to support the violations, such as text messages or police reports, and any documents demonstrating attempted resolution of the issues prior to submitting the complaint.
Any witness to the infractions or pertinent interactions between both parents would also be useful to the court in determining whether contempt is justified.
Change in Custody Arrangements
In Florida, in order to modify a child custody arrangement, a parent must file a petition with the court. A petition is essentially a formal request that the court modify an existing order.
The parent requesting the change is referred to as the petitioner, while the other parent is referred to as the respondent. After the petition for modification has been filed, the respondent is notified of the proceedings and given the opportunity to object to the proposed modifications.
If both parents concur to the modifications, they can simply execute a consent order outlining the agreed-upon modifications. Once the consent order has been signed by both parents, it must be submitted to the court for approval. Nevertheless, if one parent objects to the proposed changes, the case will proceed to a hearing where both parties can present their arguments to a judge.
The judge will then determine whether the proposed modifications are in the child’s best interests and grant or deny the petition for modification accordingly. Judges consider each parent’s relationship with the child, each parent’s work schedule, each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional requirements, and any incidents of domestic violence or abuse.
The following are common reasons for requesting a change in custody.
- One parent remarrying and wants their new spouse to spend time with the children
- Children’s needs have changed
- One parent relocating for work or other reasons
- The current arrangement is ineffective and needs to be changed.
This list is not exhaustive, as there are numerous reasons why an individual might desire to modify their child custody arrangement. In some instances, both parents may consent to the changes, whereas in others, only one parent may desire a modification. In either situation, a court will need to be involved in some capacity.
What Are the Punishments for Violating a Parenting Plan in Florida
The Punishments for violating a parenting plan in Florida are Awarding Extra Time to the Wronged Parent, Parenting Classes, Community Service and Payment of Legal Fees Incurred by Wronged Parent.
In extreme circumstances, the court may find a parent in contempt of court. In many instances, the court will order the offending parent to pay the other parent’s legal fees and court costs for bringing the matter to court.
Awarding Extra Time to the Wronged Parent
In Florida, courts have the authority to grant additional parenting time to parents who were improperly denied time-sharing.
He or she may grant the child additional time sharing to make up for any time that was denied.
In the event that one of the parents violates the terms of the parenting plan, the court has many different options on how to respond. The court has the authority to order the parent who is not complying to attend parenting classes.
A parent who violates the requirements of a time-sharing schedule may be required to participate in a parenting class, conduct community service, and pay for the costs of any legal action taken against them.
Payment of Legal Fees Incurred by Wronged Parent
The court may require the offending parent to pay the other parent’s legal and attorney fees incurred in enforcing the parenting plan.
Order the custodial parent to pay the non-custodial parent’s attorney fees and costs incurred in enforcing the parental time agreement.
What Are Valid Reasons for Violating a Parenting Plan?
The valid reasons for violating a parenting plan are Changes in Living Situation, Changes in Employment, Changes in Earnings and Changes in Health Status.
Changes in Living Situation
Due to changes in their living environment, one parent finds it difficult to adhere to the time sharing plan that has been previously established.
Changes is Employment/ Earnings
As a result of change in employment and income, a parent is unable to meet the child’s financial needs and provide for them.
Changes in Health Status
There has been a shift in the parent’s health status, such as the parent receiving a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or a condition that renders them unable to work.