Orlando Visitation Rights Attorney

father hugging his child during visitation

Unless parents are awarded joint child custody in a divorce, visitation rights (parenting time) are an important part of the process. Both parents have the right to a close relationship with their children. Even if the parents are not married, though the father must prove paternity, Florida law recognizes that both mother and father have the right to access their offspring. 

In spite of this perspective, agreeing on custody and visitation arrangements can be difficult and contentious. For this reason, working with a family law team with experience, in-depth knowledge of the law, and empathy for all parties is essential. In Central Florida, contacting the accomplished family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team is a smart choice. 

Our lead attorneys, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S. and Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., are husband and wife and have a strong sense of the importance of family, whether the family is being restructured or not. 

You will find our practice provides a safe and private space to discuss your child custody and visitation issues. In many cases, we may be able to satisfy the needs of all parties through out-of-court negotiations, saving time, money, and the stress of a trial.

Types of Child Custody

Child custody can be legal or physical. Physical custody refers to the parent the child lives with on a daily basis. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to decision-making about the child’s welfare in regard to healthcare, education, and religious upbringing. Legal custody is almost always held by both parents.

As far as physical custody is concerned, both parents must come up with a plan in which a decision is made for both parents to have joint custody or one parent to have sole custody of the child. While, in the majority of cases, the courts work under the assumption that joint custody is preferable, the locations of the parents’ separate homes and their demanding work schedules may make joint custody impossible. Also, both parents may not be equally prepared to care for the child or to be responsible parents.

If this is the case, sole custody may be a more workable solution, provided generous parenting time can be awarded to the noncustodial parent. It is vital to be aware that unless divorcing spouses come up with a viable parenting plan on their own, the court will make decisions for them. The services of a keen, compassionate child custody attorney can help you see to it that you do not have to relinquish parental control to the court and that your child’s best interests are protected.

What is included in a well-crafted parenting plan?

Florida courts expect both parents to submit a proposed parenting plan that covers:

  • Custody and visitation schedules — the latter is typically one or more evenings during the week and alternate weekends, with start and end times clearly delineated
  • Division of holidays and vacations, including summer vacation
  • Transportation to extracurricular activities, friends’ homes, medical appointments, etc.
  • How frequently communications between the child and the noncustodial parent will take place
  • How often parents will communicate with one another about the child’s well-being, health, school reports, physical and emotional development
  • Which parent will be responsible for making medical appointments for the child?
  • Which parent will take care of the child when the child is sick and unable to attend school?

It is essential that parents notify one another as soon as possible if there is a change in time or date of visitation, or a delay in pick-ups or drop-offs, since changes without notification are a frequent source of conflict between divorced or separated parents, causing much unnecessary friction and distress.

Factors That Affect Parenting Plans When the Court Gets Involved

While our child custody attorneys will always try to negotiate a workable parenting plan without litigation, there are times when a courtroom fight is unavoidable, for example in cases in which a parent is accused of child abuse or domestic violence, criminal behavior, or substance abuse. Though the court is likely to approve any plan both parents agree on, if no agreement is reached by the parents, the court will consider the following factors before making its decision:

  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment
  • The love, affection, and emotional bonds between each parent and the child
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and a safe home
  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate and encourage a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The moral fitness of each parent
  • Any evidence of domestic violence or child abuse on the part of either parent
  • Alcohol, drug abuse, or evidence of criminal activity by either parent
  • Any special needs or talents of the child and how each parent relates to them
  • The child’s expressed wishes if the child is old enough to make a thoughtful choice 

What Our Capable, Caring Child Custody Attorneys Can Do to Help

At Orlando Family Team, we want to help you resolve your child custody and visitation issues as smoothly as possible in order to spare you the confrontation that is harmful to everyone concerned, especially your child. As your allies in this fight that could not be more consequential for you, we will take whichever steps are warranted by your particular situation:

  • Arrange for a paternity test to guarantee your parenting time with your child if you are not married to the child’s mother
  • Skillfully negotiate the terms of custody and visitation to protect the interests of you and your child
  • Draft and review any custody and visitation agreements to make sure they are clearly stated and legally binding
  • Represent you during mediation or in a collaborative divorce 
  • Litigate your case in court, if necessary, with a carefully crafted strategic approach
  • Defend your right to custody or visitation if you have been falsely accused of being irresponsible, neglectful, or abusive
  • Modify prior custody orders, judgments, and parenting plans if necessary due to altered circumstances — health-related, financial, or otherwise
  • Represent you during contempt proceedings whether you are the plaintiff or defendant

Contact Our Experienced Child Custody/Visitation Attorneys Today

As you can see, child custody and visitation matters can be complicated to navigate. In matters involving you and your child, don’t leave anything to chance. Contact us now. Having Orlando Family Team at your side can make all the difference.