For parents who often travel for work, the amount and duration of travel can become a significant concern for a parent in terms of child custody arrangements. Therefore, it is important to know the statutory guidelines for determining a child custody arrangement and understand your parental rights. Consult an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your specific case and the effect your travel may have on your child custody plan.
It is public policy under Florida law that joint custody of minor children be awarded to the parties unless such arrangement would be detrimental to the child. Therefore, even if you travel for work, it is presumed by the court that you and your spouse will share custody of your children. However, when the court is charged with determining the specifics of a parenting plan and timesharing, they must consider many factors to obtain the overall goal of the best interest of the child. Some of these factors include:
- “The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties;
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan;
- The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things;
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime;
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties;
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.”
These elements may be a challenge for you to overcome in regards to your travel schedule. Your spouse may claim, due to your travel that you did not retain parental responsibilities during the marriage, did not engage in the child’s education, social development, or other activities and they alone were the primary caregiver of the child. Further, the spouse may claim that due to your travel, you will inevitably need to delegate these activities to third parties and not be present for the child. Further, if your travel is for long increments or if often sporadic in nature the court may determine that the stability of a single home is more suitable for the child’s development. However, you may circumvent these claims by showing your parental tasks during the times you are present and not traveling. For instance, you can show your attendance at school functions, or extra circular activities for the child. You can provide testimony from witnesses regarding your involvement with the child while in person or through technology when you are traveling. Displaying your consistent involvement and determination to be a present figure in the child’s life can provide a great deal of information to the court. Further, if your career allows, you may provide the court with documentation displaying your ability to delay certain travel, decline travel when you are exercising your timesharing, or eliminate the travel requirements of your job in order to remove this disputed hurdle.
If you are employed in a position requiring a great deal of travel and are concerned this may affect your child custody arrangement, contact an attorney today. We will be able to assess your case and discuss the specific needs of your child, your career, and evidence you may provide in order to display your ability to both be a competent parent and employee.
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