Child Custody Attorney Tampa FL
Child Custody Attorney in Tampa FL
If you are getting a divorce and have children you may want to consider a child custody attorney Tampa, FL respects. The McKinney Law Group understands the complexities and laws of child custody in Florida. As a family law firm, we take a zealous approach to serving our clients’ needs and work as diligently as possible to get positive results. If you would like to speak with a Tampa child custody attorney, call our firm now.
Understanding Child Custody Laws
When you call a child custody attorney Tampa, FL provides, you will have the opportunity to ask personal questions and discuss your concerns. In the meantime, it is important to have a general understanding of the relevant laws and litigation. In Florida, the same child custody and visitation laws that apply to a divorcing couple also apply to a couple who were never married but have children together.
The state encourages parents to take an equal share in parental responsibility. This means both parents have the opportunity to make important decisions about their child’s health care, religious upbringing, morals, education, and so forth. Oftentimes, one parent is awarded primary custody and the other receives visitation rights. A child custody attorney in Tampa, FL can discuss what may be best for you and your child during your consultation.
If the parents cannot come to an agreement or are imprisoned or institutionalized, the courts might make the decisions on issues regarding child custody. The courts are legally required to consider the best interests of the child by reviewing factors such as:
- The parents’ moral standards and capabilities
- The preferences of the child
- Each parent’s demonstrated ability to take care of the child
- School records of the child
- The length of time the child has resided in a stable environment
- Whether or not abuse was a factor in the divorce
- Whether or not drugs or alcohol abuse was a factor in the divorce
- Any other issues deemed relevant by the court regarding child custody decisions
A child custody attorney Tampa, FL counts on can let you know what your odds are of gaining custody of your child. In addition, if your spouse has already retained a lawyer, it may be in your best interest to do the same as soon as possible.
Parenting Plans in Florida
The Florida court system requires parents to create and submit a parenting plan if time sharing of the child will occur. If the judge believes the plan supports the best interests of the child, it will likely be approved. Otherwise, the court has the legal right to create a plan on behalf of the parents. This means if parents can agree upon a plan, the entire process might be easier and smoother for all parties involved. A parenting plan usually needs to include:
- The time sharing schedule
- How parents will share responsibility for daily tasks
- A designation of who will be responsible for health care, education, and other activities
- How parents will communicate with the child or children when they are not in their respective household
Can a Child’s Therapist Testify in a Custody Case?
Custody cases can be emotional and stressful for those involved as the parents attempt to negotiate the living arrangement of their child or children. When parents are unable to come to an agreement and a custody battle ensues, a judge may have to decide which parent is more fit to care for the child. If the child has seen, or is currently seeing, a therapist then the therapist is allowed to give testimony in the case. In this scenario, a child custody attorney Tampa, FL families trust may request that the therapist testifies on behalf of their client.
Having a Child’s Therapist Testify
Having a child’s therapist speak in court can be very helpful. When a child’s therapist is called to testify in court, their role is not necessarily to support the agenda of the Tampa, FL child custody attorney, but rather to speak on behalf of the child and what’s in the child’s best interest. They can only speak as a fact witness, however, so they can discuss experiences and observations of the child’s treatment, but they usually can’t offer an opinion.
Many therapists don’t like to appear in court because they don’t like to get involved in high-conflict family court issues. They may refuse to testify, in which case the parent’s child custody attorney in Tampa, FL must subpoena the therapist to get them to testify in court.
Hiring a Psychologist as an Expert Witness
Different from a therapist, a psychiatrist or psychologist as an expert witness can offer more than facts. A child custody attorney Tampa, FL residents choose may hire an expert witness to assess the parents, the child and the parent-child relationship, then offer testimony regarding the assessment. The expert witness will often assess parenting skills, the caregiver effect, and the mental health of both parents to determine if they are fit to parent. In their testimony, they can provide facts, observations, opinions and even recommendations for the custody arrangement.
Either side may call expert witnesses to testify in a custody case. Having a skilled and experienced expert witness can be vital to a case, especially if you hire one that shares similar views. For example, if you believe your former spouse is unfit to parent because of past drinking problems, then it would be helpful to hire an expert witness who specializes in parental drinking impacts on a child. Specifically, it is best to have a witness that shares a view that supports your agenda.
How does social media impact child custody?
If you are like the majority of Americans, you access at least one social media platform on a regular basis. There are both benefits and potential drawbacks associated with regular social media usage. Certainly, these platforms provide an opportunity to connect with others that is easily manageable, portable, and freely available. But there are also challenges associated with regular social media usage that may affect virtually every aspect of daily life.
In addition, individual activity on social media can result in various kinds of negative consequences in both professional and personal contexts. In recent years, a staggering number of Americans have been disciplined and even fired for engaging in certain activities on social media. Relationships often suffer as a result of social media activity. And certain kinds of posts, “likes” and other social media activity can even affect family legal disputes.
In general, an individual’s social media activity may be submitted as evidence in a family legal dispute. For example, if a parent posts a picture of his or her child engaged in an unreasonably dangerous activity and that parent then comments on how the child loved the activity and is going to engage in it again, this combination of picture and response could be submitted as evidence that the parent dismisses the child’s best interests in favor of enjoyable, unsafe activities.
Virtually any activity on social media may be used as evidence in a divorce, child custody, or child support action. As a result, it is critically important for individuals affected by family legal disputes to think twice before posting, liking, commenting, etc. on social media. When in doubt, individuals should consult their Tampa, Florida child custody attorney with questions. In addition, it can be helpful to temporarily suspend social media accounts until legal matters are settled so that posting on social media in potentially destructive ways becomes less tempting.
Child Custody Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about child custody, visitation rights or other challenges involving co-parenting, please consider connecting with a Tampa, FL child custody lawyer. Whether your split with your child’s other parent has been relatively amicable or marked by tension, an experienced attorney will be able to advise you of your legal options and provide necessary practical guidance related to your situation. In addition, if you believe that your social media activity may have already compromised your child custody dispute-related goals, an attorney may be able to help you mitigate any potential consequences you could be facing.
Navigating child custody matters is a uniquely stressful reality. But you do not have to weather the legal aspects of this challenging situation alone.
Understanding Child Custody in Florida
Child custody is an outdated term in the Florida legal system, but still widely used by laypersons. Now it is legally referred to as “parental responsibility” and “time sharing”. Parental responsibility refers to the right to make decisions about how a child is raised. Time sharing refers to the total amount of time any one parent spends with the child.
Although these terms were developed by the courts in an attempt to decrease disputes between parents and their responsibilities to their children, arguments still occur. When they do, resolving them without a child custody attorney Tampa FL respects can be very difficult.
How Courts Decide on Child Custody
A child custody attorney in Tampa FL can tell you that under Florida law, the courts are required to decide on time sharing and parental responsibility of separating or divorcing parents. These decisions are made with the best interests of the child/children in mind. Very often the court orders shared responsibility unless they feel this order would be harmful to the child’s well being. Laws do not favor the mother or father, and may take into consideration a time sharing schedule and parenting plan. A child custody attorney Tampa FL relies on can help make the process smoother and more productive.
Some factors that may be taken into consideration when determining child custody (or time sharing and parental responsibility) include:
- The willingness of each parent to encourage a close relationship with the child.
- The morals of the parents.
- The ability to be reasonable when time sharing changes are required.
- The preferences of a child.
- The capacity of each parent to provide a healthy, consistent routine for the child.
- The capacity of each parent to be involved with the child’s school and any activities.
Other factors that may be considered include:
- Whether or not domestic violence or sexual abuse was involved in parenting or against the other parent.
- Whether or not one parent is facing jail/prison time, or already incarcerated.
- The earning capacity of each parent.
- If a parent’s whereabouts is unknown, or they have no desire to be involved in the children’s life, the court may grant full custody to the other parent, or in some cases a guardian. A child custody attorney Tampa FL has to offer can further explain what options are available and what you might expect in your own case.
Developing a Parenting Plan
The court may require each parent to submit a parenting plan. This must revolve around the best interests of the child and should be agreed upon by both parents. It is up to the court to decide whether or not it is acceptable. If it is not, the court may create the plan for the parents. A lawyer may help you and your ex spouse to create a mutually agreeable plan that suits everyone involved and decreases the chance of the court getting too involved.
Different Types of Child Custody in Florida
If you are involved in a child custody case in Florida, your child custody attorney Tampa FL clients recommend will likely explain to you the different types of custody that Florida family courts decide on. These include:
Physical custody refers to which parent’s home the child will physically live. Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, a child may primarily live with one parent or – if the parents live close to each other – the court may decide the child will spend equal amounts of time at both homes. The school district that the home where the child will spend them majority of his or her physical time is also usually where the child will attend school, although, there can be exceptions. If the child will live primarily with one parent, then the court will set up a schedule of visitation for the other parent.
Legal custody refers to which parent has the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s health, education, religion, and other issues. It is separate from physical custody. In the majority of cases, a seasoned child custody attorney Tampa FL parents rely on has handled, legal custody is often granted to both parents. However – again depending on the circumstances of the case – the court may only award legal custody to one parent. Courts may also take away a parent’s legal custody if it is determined that the parent violated provisions of the original custody order.
Sole and Joint Custody
The court may make its final decision of custody based on what is in the best interest of the child. The trend over the past several years is to award joint custody, meaning the both parents have equal say in the legal decisions and the child divides his or her time between both homes, However, if the court finds that a parent is not fit to raise the child, then the other parent may be awarded sole custody when it comes to both where the child lives and who makes legal decisions about the child’s life. Examples of when the court may take this action is if the parent has a substance abuse issue or has been abusive or neglectful. This can also happen if the parent has a partner who exhibits these issues.
Let a Seasoned child custody attorney Tampa FL Residents Depend on Fight for You
If you are dealing with custody or parenting issues and need the advice of an experienced Tampa child custody attorney, let The McKinney Law Group help you. Our legal team has more than a decade aggressively advocating for parents and their children and uses all available resources to obtain the best child custody outcome possible.
Crafting a Workable Parenting Plan
If you and your spouse can work together side by side, our team can help you to craft your parenting plan alongside your spouse and their attorney. Depending on what kind of process is needed, you may benefit from having a neutral mediator in place during negotiations. Conversely, if you and your spouse plan to co-parent moving forward but the negotiation process won’t be served well by you being in the same room right now, our team can help you to craft your parenting plan primarily through negotiations with your spouse’s attorney. Your parenting plan will govern the practical ins and outs of your child custody arrangement, from when your child will stay with each parent to how holidays will be managed.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you and your child’s other parent are divorcing, legally separating, or have never been married and are going your separate ways, it is important to connect with an attorney as early in the child custody process as is possible. The experienced legal team at The McKinney Law Group understands how challenging it is – even when parents agree on exactly how their parenting responsibilities should be divided – to navigate the child custody process. As a result, we will do our utmost to make the legal aspects of this transition as stress-free as is possible under the circumstances so that you can focus your energy on your child and on preparing yourself for the next stage in your parenting journey. Please connect with our reputable Tampa, FL child custody attorneys today – we look forward to speaking with you.
Hiring a Lawyer Child Custody Attorney Tampa, FL Parents Turn to for Help
An experienced child custody attorney Tampa, FL offers will be able to determine whether your child’s therapist or an expert witness will be helpful to the case. If so, they are able to subpoena them for court to ensure the necessary testimony is given. Because there is so much at risk in a child custody case, it is vital to have a knowledgeable child custody attorney Tampa, FL community members rely on to protect your legal rights, fight for your interests and properly navigate your case in court.
A child custody attorney Tampa, FL provides can help to create a plan that benefits the children and the parents. If agreements cannot be made, mediation or arbitration might ensue.
To schedule an appointment with a child custody attorney Tampa, FL has to offer, call The McKinney Law Group at 813-906-0048.
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