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St. Petersburg Divorce & Family Lawyers
Child Custody

St. Petersburg Child Custody Lawyer

Helping Clients With Parenting Plans, Time Sharing, and Parental Rights in Florida

In Florida, parenting plans known as time-sharing have replaced traditional custody arrangements. Time sharing involves the guardianship, residency, and care of a child. Custody disputes can have a huge impact on your role as a parent, and a family lawyer can help you understand your options and rights.

Call Emerson Law, P.A. today at (727) 855-6587 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our child custody attorney in St. Petersburg.

How Custody is Determined in Florida?

When determining which parent will get custody of a child, courts consider a variety of factors such as the parents’ financial and physical abilities to care for the child, their medical histories, vocations and habits. They also consider the emotional bond between each parent and child, as well as the wishes of both parents.

It is important to have a child custody attorney to help you negotiate for the custody rights you deserve. Cody Emerson, Esq. represents mothers and fathers throughout the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Florida area with all concerns regarding children. We will focus on working toward what’s right for you and your children.

Types of Custody in Florida

In Florida, the primary forms of custody are:

  • Sole Parental Responsibility: One parent has the exclusive right to make major decisions regarding the child's life. This is often awarded when one parent is deemed unfit, or it is in the child's best interest to have one parent make these decisions.
  • Shared Parental Responsibility: Both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities and must collaborate on major decisions affecting the child's life. This is the most common arrangement and is preferred by Florida courts as it encourages both parents to stay actively involved in their child’s upbringing.
  • Time-Sharing Schedules: Also known as visitation or parenting time, this arrangement details how much time the child spends with each parent. Florida courts aim to create a time-sharing plan that serves the best interests of the child, ensuring they keep a meaningful relationship with both parents.
  • Rotating Custody: This is a less common arrangement where the child alternates living with each parent for extended periods. This approach requires a high level of cooperation and communication between parents and is typically used when parents live in close proximity and can provide a stable environment for the child in both households.

What Makes a Parent Unfit?

The determination of whether a parent is unfit is a critical factor in custody decisions. Several factors are considered by the court to ascertain a parent's fitness:

  • Abuse or Neglect: Any history or evidence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect of the child will strongly indicate that a parent is unfit. Florida courts prioritize the child's safety above all else.
  • Substance Abuse: If a parent struggles with alcohol or drug addiction, it may impair their ability to care for the child adequately. The court will evaluate any evidence of substance abuse, including past arrests, rehabilitation efforts, and ongoing issues.
  • Mental Health Issues: Severe or untreated mental health conditions that affect a parent's ability to care for their child can be grounds for deeming them unfit. The court will consider medical records, treatment history, and expert testimony.
  • Domestic Violence: A history of domestic violence is a significant factor. Even if the violence is not directed toward the child, it can create an unsafe environment and emotionally harm the child.
  • Criminal Activity: Ongoing involvement in criminal activities or having a criminal record, especially crimes involving violence or dishonesty, can negatively impact a parent's fitness.
  • Parental Alienation: Attempts by one parent to manipulate the child against the other parent, which is known as parental alienation, can be seen as detrimental to the child's well-being and may affect custody decisions.
  • Inability to Provide Basic Needs: A parent must be able to provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Failing to meet these needs could result in a parent being considered unfit.

Maintaining a Relationship With your Child Through Shared Custody

In Florida, the court will act in what it believes to be the best interests of the child. In most cases, this means awarding generous time-sharing and shared parental responsibility to both parents. Parents should be aware that the court strives for parenting plans that provide the child with regular access to time with both parents over the course of the year. Though Florida technically does not utilize the term “joint custody,” this typical arrangement amounts to our common understanding of that term.

Emerson Law, P.A. helps parents create manageable solutions when it comes to time-sharing and decisions regarding education, medical care, and upbringing. Whenever possible, we encourage parents to negotiate time-sharing arrangements through mediation. However, we are always prepared to assert your parental rights and protect your relationship with your children through litigation if necessary. 

Contact Our Child Custody Attorney in St. Petersburg Today

At Emerson Law, P.A., we are upfront and honest about what a parent can expect, what is reasonable, and what is realistic. Emerson Law, P.A, focuses on saving you time and money while pursuing the options that are best for your family. 

Contact Emerson Law, P.A. today for a consultation to discuss your child custody matter: (727) 855-6587.

Contact Emerson Law, P.A. Today!

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