Tampa Child Custody Attorneys
If you have children, ensuring that you maintain frequent, meaningful contact with them after a divorce and that custody arrangements are made in their best interests is highly important to you. Our Tampa child custody attorneys can provide invaluable assistance to you during this time. If you are working with your co-parent to create a parenting plan through mediation, collaborative divorce or other means, we’ll help you find practical, creative solutions and stay on track during this emotional process. If the conflict is too high for productive negotiations, you’ll find our experienced divorce lawyers to be strong advocates for you and your children in courtroom litigation. Call our office for a free evaluation of the child custody issues in your divorce or other family law matter.
What is a parenting plan?
Child custody in Florida marital and family law is discussed in terms of parenting and timesharing. The parents or the court must decide how the parents will share custody of the children, including the children’s physical care as well as the responsibility for making decisions regarding their upbringing. These details are worked out in a parenting plan. A comprehensive parenting plan will outline where and when the children will reside with each parent. The plan should include custody exchanges and drop-offs, holidays and vacations, and emergency changes to the custody schedule. The plan should also address which parent is responsible for making decisions regarding the children’s schooling and extracurricular activities, religious instruction, and healthcare and medical needs. If this decision-making authority is shared, provisions should be made regarding how to resolve conflict. The more a detailed parenting plan is worked out in advance, the less likelihood that parents will find themselves back in court to enforce parenting and timesharing orders or resolve disputes.
What if we can’t agree on a parenting plan?
If the parents can’t agree on custody issues, they’ll need to litigate the question in court, with the judge ultimately deciding on the parenting plan and timesharing schedule. Florida family law judges are required to consider a number of different factors in making this decision, with the overall factor being what is in the best interests of the children. The factors considered by the court include:
- Each parent’s emotional bond with the kids
- How well each parent can provide for the children’s needs regarding food, clothing, medical care and other basic necessities
- How important it is for the children to remain in the same home and school environment versus changing primary residences
- A parent’s moral fitness as a parent
- Each parent’s physical and mental condition
- The children’s school records
- The child’s preference about where to live and which parent to live with, if reasonable
- The demonstrated 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 anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent
- 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
- Whether there is any evidence or history of domestic violence or child abuse by either parent, including providing a false report to the police
Sometimes it is necessary to hire a forensic psychologist to complete a custody evaluation in which the expert presents their findings to the judge along with their recommendations for the establishment of a parenting plan and timesharing schedule. We have worked with many of the top experts in the area in conducting such evaluations and presenting their findings and recommendations to the judge.
When considering these factors, family court judges base their knowledge on the facts and evidence presented to them by the parties. Our experienced courtroom litigators build a strong case backed by evidence and compelling arguments to help the judge reach the right conclusions regarding child custody in your divorce.
Help with Child Custody Matters in Your Tampa Divorce
For help with child custody in a Tampa divorce, paternity proceeding or other marital and family law matter, contact Cortes Hodz Family Law & Mediation, P.A. at 813-514-0909 for a free consultation with a team of experienced and dedicated Florida child custody attorneys.