St. Petersburg Child Custody & Time-Sharing Lawyer
When divorcing couples share one or more minor children in common, where those children will live after the divorce and how important parenting decisions will be made are some of the most important – and often highly contested – issues to resolve. At Meros, Smith, Lazzara, Brennan & Brennan, P.A., our dedicated St. Petersburg family law attorneys understand the importance of this matter and the significant amount of attention that must be paid toward getting it right. Our firm offers a Florida Bar Board Certified Marital and Family Law Specialist and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator as part of our team. Together, our St. Petersburg child custody & time-sharing lawyers will work with you and your co-parent in negotiations, mediation or collaborative law to come up with a time-sharing schedule and parenting plan that meets both parents’ needs and operates smoothly in the best interests of the children. If an agreement can’t be worked out, our experienced courtroom litigators are prepared to represent your interests in court and fight for the right result in your child custody case.
The Best Interests of the Children
When ruling on custody, Florida judges are charged with making decisions in the best interests of the children. How does a judge know what’s in your child’s best interests? In fact, who knows the answer to this question better than you and your co-parent? The courts are required by law to consider a long list of factors in making this determination, and the way they get their information is through evidence, testimony and legal arguments presented by the parties through their attorneys. Experience in family law and strong courtroom skills are essential to making your case for custody, and these are areas at which our firm excels. We’ll prepare and present a compelling case in your favor regarding every appliable Florida child custody factor, including:
- 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 length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- 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. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought.
- Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
Get the Time-Sharing and Parenting Plan You and Your Children Deserve
For help negotiating, drafting, reviewing or litigating St. Petersburg child custody and time-sharing matters, call Meros, Smith, Lazzara, Brennan & Brennan, P.A., at 727-822-4929 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.