For Your Children's Sake

Put our experience to work for you. Call now, 904-794-7898.

The breakup of a the family unit can be detrimental to children. However, as parents, you have considerable power to minimize the impact. It is not your decision to lead separate lives that is most harmful to your kids — it's the bitter legal wrangling during divorce and inability to get along afterward that takes a toll. For your children's sake, we encourage you to put emotions aside to strive for an out-of-court parenting agreement.  However, even when that’s not possible, our experienced legal team is here for you.
Shared Parental Responsibility is the legal presumption in Florida. The Court feels that both parents should be actively involved in their children's lives, education, religious upbringing, health and welfare. The Court will grant Shared Parental Responsibility unless the Court finds that it is detrimental to the child, then it will grant Sole Parental Responsibility. Otherwise, both parents will work together jointly raising their children.  To that end, Attorney Michael Hines helps families take the steps required to put forth the most workable Parenting Plan possible.

Changed Laws Focus on Compatible Parenting Plans

In the state of Florida, terms like sole custody, joint custody, legal custody, physical custody and visitation have been written out of Florida law. Instead, Florida courts now focus on establishing a shared Parenting Plan that addresses three parenting issues: parental responsibility, time sharing, and support.

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility refers to the upbringing of the children. Your Plan will need to clearly lay out how parents will share in making important decisions affecting the children, religious upbringing, schools they will attend, health care needs, etc.

Time Sharing

Rather than the old child custody-visitation model, the court now uses time sharing to refer to how time will be divided between the parents. Your shared Parenting Plan will need to address where the child will live, how much time will be spent with each parent and what schedule the family will follow for time sharing.


Florida law still uses the term child support to describe the financial support necessary for a parent to provide for the needs of their children. However, it can now be addressed in the shared Parenting Plan. Parents can choose to establish support based upon Florida child support guidelines, or deviate from the typical model to address daycare costs, additional medical costs, school expenses, or expenses that are related to raising a special needs child.

Your Parenting Plan Must Be Legally Binding

Parenting Plans are some of the most challenging and difficult aspects of a divorce case. Both parents must work through or litigate important decisions, like who the children will live with most of the time; and it can be a terrifying, frustrating and demanding process.

In most cases, children-related issues are not amicably agreed upon, and end up in mediation or are disputed in the legal system. Even when a Parenting Plan is amicably agreed upon, the court must approve and issue a court order for the Parenting Plan to be legally binding. This is to protect both parents, and the children, in the event one of the parents chooses not to comply with the conditions earlier agreed upon in the document.

Basic Parenting Plans include guidelines regarding:

• The primary residence of the child (or children)
• Parental time sharing, visitation rights, and schedules • Child support

Parenting Plans, which are more detailed, often also include:

• Parental responsibility and decision making
• Standards for conduct - how both parents act toward each other and the children
• Responsibility or funding for child development programs, daycare, after-school programs, medical care, and college funds
• Grounds for Parenting Plan modifications
• Any other issue which either parent believes may need to be specifically addressed for the best interest of the child.

The duty of your Parenting Plan Attorney (Lawyer) is to represent your legal rights in an effort to effectively show the court that your goal for child related issues are in the best interest of the child.

When The Court Must Rule

When the court must make a ruling regarding child related issues, they will consider many factors when making decisions regarding Parenting Plan issues.

At times, in an effort to gain favor with the court, one parent or both make false claims or embellish the facts of behaviors or actions of the other parent. This practice is highly discouraged, because if proven false in Parenting Plan proceedings, the courts may react negatively and harshly in favor of the parent who was wrongfully accused. When this tactic is used against you, we will aggressively defend you to expose to the court any allegations that are false.

The bottom line is what is in the best interest of the child. The court will listen to both sides, analyze the facts which have been presented, and render a court order regarding Parenting Plans based upon those facts under the guidelines of Family Law.  Attorney Michael Hines has successfully resolved Parenting Plan issues and situations from amicable and fairly simple to logistically complex to the seemingly impossible.

Different Solutions for Different Family Situations

In other non-marital circumstances like after a separation of an unwed couple; those seeking a modification to a custody agreement or court order; or in the unfortunate circumstance of the death of one of the parents; changes to the Parenting Plan and the complex issues regarding future living arrangements of the child or children will need a thorough review of all the available options. Possible solutions can sometimes involve other caring family members and friends.

Focusing on the Welfare of Your Children

At the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A., we work with parents to formulate child custody agreements and Parenting Plans. Our focus is on the best interests and welfare of your children and our goal is to craft an agreement that is acceptable to the court and fair to both parents.

Parenting Plan cases can be intensely personal in nature, and we always strive to provide the highest standard of legal representation to aggressively pursue your Parenting Plan goals, while handling these cases with the utmost discretion.

Answering Your Questions and Addressing Your Concerns

If you are involved in a divorce, separation, or are seeking to modify a post-judgment order involving your children, and need to seek experienced legal advice regarding any Parenting Plan or other Family Law issues, you will get real answers and the help to sort through it all when you call the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A.

Do you have questions and concerns regarding the custody of your minor children, including questions regarding the relationship between your Parenting Plan and child support? Have you been denied visitation rights? Has your co-parent refused to abide by your timesharing arrangement? Attorney Michael Hines and his experienced Family Law team can help you get answers and results.

Factors that Determine Court-Ordered Parenting Plans

In Florida, the primary focus in child custody proceedings is the best interests and welfare of the child. Some of the factors a court will consider include:

• The capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
• The moral character and mental and physical health of each parent.
• Whether there has been child abuse.
• The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
• 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. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.

We will work with you to identify factors relevant to your case and determinations and help you communicate those factors and your situation to the court.

A Tough Negotiator, Ready and Prepared

Attorney Michael Hines knows from first-hand experience how stressful and destructive a contentious custody battle can be in these situations.

He hopes that both parents truly don't want to fight over their children and helps parents negotiate child custody arrangements and Parenting Plans. This approach often saves time, money, and heartache, and allows for the children’s best interests to be paramount.

If it does become necessary to litigate these issues, the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A. is ready to prepare your custody case for trial to the fullest extent, making use of necessary child custody experts, including therapists, psychological evaluators, Guardians Ad Litem, and parenting coordinators.

Don’t lose your rights to visitation with your child. The highly experienced team at the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A. will assist you in handling the difficulties you are dealing with in trying to maintain communication and contact with your child or children.

We will examine each parent’s situation and past and present interaction with the child to determine how both of your parenting has best served the interests of your child.

Our Commitment to You

The Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A. has an outstanding team that is dedicated to providing you with the kind of legal representation you deserve. To us, that means working closely with you to understand your goals and ensure the shared Parenting Plan truly reflects your needs and the needs of your children.

Our many successful results demonstrate our dedication to hard work, our genuine concern for clients and the trust that we instill in each client. Many former clients have shown their confidence in our services by sending a friend or family member our way when they are faced with a difficult Family Law problem — and we are happy to serve their needs with the same level of compassion, support and experience.

Attorney Michael Hines has successfully resolved Parenting Plan issues and situations from amicable and fairly simple to logistically complex to the seemingly impossible.

Put our experience to work for you.

Call the law office of Michael Hines now at 904-794-7898.