Tampa Child Custody Lawyer | Hillsborough County Parenting Time Child Visitation Lawyer

Deciding how your children will be cared for after divorce can be tough. Call a dedicated Tampa child custody lawyer for help. Being a parent in the middle of a battle for child custody is tough emotionally for you and the child, and adds a new dimension of stress and worry. In 2008 the Florida legislature opted to change the words "sole custody", "joint custody", and "visitation" to "sole parental responsibility", "shared parental responsibility", and "parenting time" in an effort to emphasize the importance of parents in a child's life after divorce.

A family judge faced with a decision about who cares for a child must take into consideration all circumstances when deciding how a child's best interests will be met and what will best promote the child's welfare and happiness. Florida recognizes that a child benefits from frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or divorce, and the state encourages parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of child rearing. There is no presumption for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the child’s parenting plan.

Florida Custody (Parental Responsibility) Disputes

When parents in Florida disagree about parental responsibility (custody), a judge is not permitted to automatically favor the mother over the father. The parental responsibility will be shared by both parents unless the court finds it would be detrimental to the child (for example if a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence). The judge may consider the parents' wishes and grant to one parent the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child's welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parents based on the best interests of the child. Areas of responsibility may include education, health care, and any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a particular family.

Florida Visitation (Parenting Plan)

If the parents cannot agree, a judge will decide a parenting plan and order shared parenting time that is in the best interest of the child. The court may consider many factors when making those decisions:

  • The parents' ability to meet the child's needs, to encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment that is free from substance abuse
  • The parent's ability to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime
  • The moral, mental, and physical health of the parents
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect and false reporting of such conduct
  • The parent's involvement in the child's school and extracurricular activities
  • The child's wishes

It is important to note that a parent who is responsible for paying child support cannot stop paying for the reason that the other parent is not abiding by the parenting plan and is preventing the child from seeing the paying parent. If you find yourself in this situation, contact a family lawyer in Tampa right away.

Does a child get to choose the parent to live with?

Under Florida law, a child’s preference is only one of many factors to be considered by the court in determining where a child will reside.  A child does not have the legal right to choose until he or she reaches age 18.

Like many states, Florida adheres to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Any child under the age of 18 is covered by this act, which allows a family court to decide legal or physical custody and visitation as a part of lawsuits involving:

(1) Divorce;
(2) Separation;
(3) Neglect;
(4) Abuse;
(5) Dependency;
(6) Guardianship;
(7) Paternity;
(8) Termination of parental rights; and
(9) Protection from domestic violence.

How will your children spend time with the other parent after divorce? Call an experienced Tampa family lawyer to make these plans.

What happens if we need to change or modify a visitation or custody order?

Sometimes a parent loses a job, changes jobs, or needs to change the visitation (parenting time) that the court approved in the divorce decree. Other times, changes in circumstances are such that a child needs to live with the other parent. A court will not change parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule unless the parent can show a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and that the modification is in the best interests of the child. A modification requires certain legal steps and proof and it is difficult to do it yourself. To learn more about post-divorce modification of child custody (parental responsibility), please see a qualified Tampa divorce lawyer.

How does Florida treat child custody decisions from other countries?

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Florida recognizes and enforces child custody decisions from other countries as if they were issued from another state of the United States, unless the country it comes from violates fundamental human rights.

What court has the jurisdiction to decide my child's custody?

According to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a Florida family court has jurisdiction to decide child custody if Florida was the home state of the child within six months before the case started, and a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in Florida (even if the child is no longer in the state at that time). If a child in Florida has been abandoned, or the court must protect the child because the child or the child's sibling or parent has been threatened with or has been subjected to mistreatment or abuse, a family court in Florida may get Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction.

Get a Free Consultation with a Licensed Tampa Child Custody Attorney

These are only a few of the many rules that affect child custody, and only some of the important legal factors to consider when trying to decide whether and how to sue for parental rights, guardianship, or custody of a child. It takes a versatile Tampa child custody lawyer to fully inform you of what needs to be done in your personal situation because every family's circumstances are different. Meeting with a qualified Tampa child custody attorney will help you to understand your options and make the best possible plan.

Brandon Community Head Start Center
9547 East Columbus Drive
Tampa, FL 33619
( 813)  744-5321
A Brighter Community, Inc
1613 North Marion Street
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 223-6830
Carrollwood Day School
12606 Casey Road
Tampa, FL 33618
  (813) 963-2388
Citi Family Center
3701 Queen Palm Drive
Tampa, FL 33610
(813) 604-6142
Deloris McCloud Head Start Center
2103 North Rome Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607
(813)  273-3688
Fair Oaks Head Start/Early Head Start Center
3202 East Ellicott Street
Tampa, FL 33610
(813)  272-6159
Hillsborough Community College Ybor Child Development Center
1505 Palm Avenue Room 101
Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 259-6400
Jackson Springs Head Start Center
7345 Jackson Springs Road
Tampa, FL 33634
(813) 554-5041
JPMC Back-Up Childcare Center
10410 Highland Manor Drive
Tampa, FL 33610
(813)  432-8400
JPMorgan Chase Back-Up Center at Fountain Square
4900 Memorial Highway FS 3/1
Tampa, FL 33634
(813) 584-3400


Don't wait any longer. Your children are too important. Call a dedicated Tampa child custody lawyer right now!

Serving clients throughout Western Florida, including Bloomingdale, Brandon, Clearwater, Dunedin, Egypt Lake-Leto, Feather Sound, Gibsonton, Largo, Lealman, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Palm River, Pinellas Park, Riverdale, Safety Harbor, St. George, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Town ‘N’ Country, Westchase, areas in the vicinity of MacDill AFB, Tampa International Airport, and other communities in Hillsborough County.