Your Children Come First
We understand that the well-being of your children is your top priority. That is why we have a team of attorneys at our disposal for your child custody case. Whether you are in the process of divorcing, or you are already divorced, or never married, and facing a custody dispute, we are here to help protect your parental rights and the best interests of your children.
Our knowledgeable Tampa child custody lawyers will shed light and understanding on the complicated legal process. We will guide you through the difficult decisions you’ll face as to how time and responsibility raising your children will be shared between parents. Why speculate about your children’s future, when our experienced and compassionate family law team can help alleviate the anxiety of the unknown?
We will strive to get your child custody case settled promptly so that your life and those of your children can return to normal as soon as possible.
If you are facing a custody case, we can help. Please contact us today at (813) 907-9807 to speak with a child custody attorney from our family law practice group in Tampa.
Mediation to Litigation: A Team of Child Custody Attorneys on Your Side.
Our team consists of five practiced attorneys with a strong focus on legal matters stemming from divorce, including child custody. Well-versed in all aspects of resolution, we are prepared to execute on your custody matter in the most effective manner possible. From mediation and collaborative practice to trial and appeals, our team of attorneys is equipped with the experience and skills a child custody case necessitates (needs? deserves?).
Much is at stake, and legal custody disputes may become heated, but they do not need to be contemptuous battles. We always encourage our clients to consider the needs of their children first and foremost. We are always mindful that, when possible, an amicable agreement is in their best interests.
We recognize, however, that child custody cases, like divorce proceedings, are emotionally charged and can become unpleasant and adverse. Rest assured, we will always advocate for your children, as much as for you as their parent. We will be fully prepared to defend your rights and theirs in court, should mediation or negotiation become unproductive.
Florida Law & The Child’s Best Interests
As in all of Florida, family courts in Hillsborough County place an emphasis on what judges believe to be the “Child’s Best Interests”. This legal standard forms the basis of all their decisions regarding child custody. Unsurprisingly, it is the children’s interests, not the parents’, that guide a court’s custody determination.
Florida statute 61.13(3) defines the factors a judge must consider when deciding a child custody case. After mandatory consideration of each factor in the statute, along with supporting facts for each, the judge will construct the final custody order. The order will typically indicate which parent is deemed the stronger choice for each of the “child’s best interests” listed.
It is our role to carefully consider each of these factors at the outset of a child custody legal battle so the strategy we develop has the highest possible chance of success. Though most Hillsborough County judges will directly decide a custody case based on evidence alongside testimony by the parents and witnesses, issues which develop during proceedings may come into play. Though the child is undoubtedly a parent’s primary concern, as well as the court’s, it’s important to remember that a spouse’s behavior toward the other can become either an asset or a disadvantage. If either parent’s attitude appears to be self-serving, the judge may view it as contradictory to the best interests of the child.
Parenting Plans & Timesharing
In every initial divorce and paternity proceeding that involves a minor child, a parenting plan is required. Parenting plans deal with a variety of parenting issues, including communication between parents and children, parental responsibility, and co-parenting. A main component of every parenting plan involves a timesharing schedule which addresses when each parent will spend time with the child or children. It describes in detail how each parent will participate in the upbringing of the parties’ child or children. Every timesharing plan must be in the best interest of the child or children in order to be approved by the Court.
Once a couple decides to separate or divorce, how custody of the children is shared is left up to the parents at first. In child custody cases that are highly contested, an agreement on a schedule is unlikely. When both spouses are unable to agree on a time sharing schedule, they leave it in the hands of the courts to decide. When the court determines the schedule, physical custody can be any of the following:
- Joint Physical Custody: Also referred to as shared custody. Both parents act as the child’s primary residence and care providers, and both are considered custodial parents. In Florida, courts create a joint custody calendar, and there is an additional custody agreement which facilitates a 50/50 split, as needed.
- Sole Physical Custody: Also referred to as full custody. One parent acts as the primary residence for the children. The other is usually given visitation rights, the amount of which is determined by the court.
- Rotating Custody: In Florida, the physical and legal custody is rotated between parents. For a total of six months of the year, each parent must be the custodial parent.
When the courts determine physical custody, they also decide on the matter of legal custody, which is the right to make decisions for the child. Legal custody can either be sole custody, with one parent in charge, or joint custody, with both parents retaining a say in the child’s life.
For divorcing couples, Florida family court judges have a strong preference for “shared parenting,” which enables children to benefit from the participation of both parents in their upbringing. Though there used to be a preference for mothers in child custody rulings due to a ‘tender years’ doctrine, that is no longer the case in Florida.
Accessible Tampa Child Custody Attorneys Who Keep You Informed
As difficult as child custody disputes can be, rest assured that our family law team will be accessible to you throughout the process. To help you understand the complex legalities, as well as for support. We’ll keep you regularly informed of how your case is proceeding, so you’ll have one less thing to worry about during this difficult time.
Please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team of Tampa child custody attorneys today, so we can get started on resolving your child custody matter in the best manner possible.