Legendary football quarterback Tom Brady and international supermodel Gisele Bündchen officially announced their finalized divorce on Friday, October 28th. Rumors about their split had been flying for months, but the announcement made it clear that the couple was serious about ending their marriage. Gisele allegedly initiated the divorce when Tom returned to playing football after he had promised to retire and spend more time with the family.
Tom and Gisele’s divorce was finalized with relatively little legal hassle, especially compared to other celebrity splits. Despite their combined assets of $733 million, the couple appears to have kept the split from becoming a battleground. This may be partly because they agreed to share custody of their two children, Benjamin Rein, 12, and Vivian Lake, 9. The couple has made it clear that their children are their top priority.
Sources close to the couple claim that they had been working on the custody plan for the duration of their divorce and had agreed on a parenting plan in their divorce settlement. Even so, it’s surprising how little conflict was between Gisele and Tom in their custody agreement. Gisele is a citizen of Brazil, and the agreement likely includes considerations about taking the children abroad. This is often a point of contention between spouses, as custody agreements from the US may not be respected in other countries.
Under Florida state laws, the couple does not have to publicly file the details of their settlement agreements with the court, protecting their privacy. As such, there is no way to know the specifics of the couple’s agreement other than what they have stated publicly.
Still, Gisele and Tom provide an excellent example of how divorcing parents can respect their children’s best interests in Florida despite complications such as international custody concerns. Here’s how Florida’s child custody laws work, nationally and internationally, and how you can protect your children.
Florida’s Child Custody Laws
Every state has its own legislation regarding how child custody must be determined, and Florida is no different. The state does not recognize “sole custody” or “joint custody” as many other states do. Instead, it uses the terms “parental responsibility” and “time-sharing” to determine parents’ rights regarding their children.
Parental responsibility is the right and obligation to make legal, educational, and medical decisions for the child. Parents may share joint parental responsibility, or the court may award it to one parent if the other is dangerous to the child. Meanwhile, time-sharing determines how much time the child spends with each parent. In many cases, the child spends equal time with both parents, but the court may limit one parent’s time or require supervised visits if it is in the child’s best interest.
Under Florida law, parents are encouraged to work together to determine a custody arrangement that works for themselves and their children. If divorcing parents can agree on how to split custody, they can create a parenting plan and file it with the court, which will convert the plan into a binding child custody order.
If parents cannot agree, the case must be heard in court. The judge will listen to both parents’ points regarding their preferences for the parenting plan. With those arguments in mind, the judge will decide the terms of the parenting plan based on the child’s best interests.
International Custody in Florida
Parenting plans typically include rules about whether a parent may take a child out of state or country. In the case of Tom and Gisele, they both likely have the right to move their children anywhere in the world with reasonable notice, so long as it does not interfere with other elements of the parenting plan. Parents with fewer resources or less amicable splits may choose to limit whether children can be moved across borders like this due to the risk of parental kidnapping.
Parental kidnapping is ignoring an order and keeping a child when the other parent has the right to spend time with them. In the US, every state except for Massachusetts has laws that ensure custody orders are respected to reduce the risk of kidnapping. If your co-parent attempts to ignore your parenting plan and move your children without your permission, other states will hold them accountable.
However, US laws do not apply in other countries. As such, it’s necessary to consider international laws and conventions. If you or your partner has citizenship in another country, you may choose to have your child custody order ratified there. Depending on the country’s laws, you may be able to have the same order applied in both countries, or you may need to develop a new agreement that meets the foreign country’s laws and language requirements. Once the order is in place in both locations, you can rest easy knowing that your rights and responsibilities to your children will be respected.
Without requesting orders in other countries, you must rely on the Hague Convention if your co-parent violates your custody order. Under the Convention, all countries that signed the treaty agree to investigate claims that children have been abducted to foreign countries and return abducted kids to their home countries. However, invoking the Hague Convention is complicated and time-consuming, so it is better to ensure your children remain in the US if you’re concerned.
Protect Your Kids With Compassionate Legal Representation
Tom and Gisele are international celebrities with almost unlimited resources, making it easy to spend time with their children anywhere in the world. That makes the risk of international parental kidnapping almost non-existent. For families with fewer resources, however, crossing interstate and international borders can pose a significant problem.
If you’re concerned about retaining custody across borders, consult an experienced, empathetic family law attorney. At Bergman Family Law, we put your children’s needs and safety first. We can help you develop a parenting plan that considers all factors, including cross-border custody. Schedule your free virtual consultation to learn more about how we can help you protect your children with comprehensive Florida parenting plans today.