When parents who are not together share custody of children, some disagreements are natural. However, you may be unsure of how to proceed if you have serious concerns about whether your child is safe, healthy and cared for with his or her other parent.
Learn more about steps to take when you worry that a joint custody arrangement in Florida puts your child at risk.
Understanding grounds for modification
Simply disagreeing with the other parent’s lifestyle, housekeeping skills or parenting methods does not constitute a reason to modify a custody arrangement in Florida. However, you may be able to request full custody if the other parent:
- Lives in an unsafe building
- Has health hazards such as insects, rodents or mold in the home
- Consistently talks about you negatively to the child, which the court may consider parental alienation
- Makes a false accusation of abuse against you
Seeking professional help
If you think your child may experience emotional abuse or neglect in the other parent’s home, seek an evaluation from a child psychiatrist. He or she can review your child’s case and make an expert recommendation to the court if abuse has occurred. By the same token, visit your child’s pediatrician and make a police report if you notice signs of physical abuse after a visit.
Asking for modification
Florida determines custody based on the child’s interests and only modifies custody when both parents agree, a significant change in circumstance occurs or a parent has received a protective order from the other parent because of domestic violence. Under state law, the change in circumstances may include a pattern of substance use, a relocation, or an illness or injury affecting either parent.
When requesting modification because of a harmful home environment or abuse history, you must provide proof of these circumstances to the court. In addition to doctor and therapist records and police reports, this could include witness testimony, electronic communications and voice mail messages.
In the absence of one of these situations, you may be unable to change the child custody situation based on your concerns. However, you should keep track of instances that worry you in case you eventually need to file a legal modification request.