Child Custody

Family Law Attorneys Representing Residents of Jacksonville and Surrounding Cities

At Ellis and Bryant, P.A., we help divorcing parents resolve a wide range of family law issues, including those related to the care of their children. Our family law attorneys take a proactive approach to each matter, working diligently to resolve these issues without protracted court battles whenever possible. Our Jacksonville child custody lawyers also take the time to understand each client’s unique individual circumstances and craft an approach that reflects his or her specific needs and interests. We are dedicated to guiding clients through the legal process with experience and understanding.

Child custody decisions may be some of the most painful and stressful aspects of a divorce. The truth is, however, that they do not always need to be. Florida law gives parents significant power to determine between themselves how custody and visitation time will be divided between the spouses. This means that the spouses are able to reach these decisions without having a judge do it for them. Although mediation and settlement may not be possible in each and every case, it is worth at least considering the option. It is important to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney if you are a parent who is considering a divorce or are otherwise grappling with a child custody issue.

Sole vs. Shared Custody

Child custody and visitation issues generally come down to one question. What is in the child’s best interest? That question is front and center when a court decides between granting a shared parental responsibility arrangement and giving sole custody over the child to one parent. As the name suggests, parents with shared responsibility work together to care for the child and make decisions about how they will be raised. In a sole custody situation, the other parent may still have visitation time with the child, but the custodial parent has the authority to make all of the decisions about the child’s day-to-day life, as well as decisions on education, health care, and other issues. Florida law provides a preference for shared custody arrangements, unless the parents are unable to make joint decisions. The child custody attorneys at our Jacksonville firm are ready to advocate for the arrangement that is right for you.

Courts look at a number of different factors when deciding whether to award sole or shared custody. These include the desire for a stable family situation, each parent’s physical and emotional health, any special needs of the child, domestic abuse allegations, and the child’s wishes. Courts also often consider the child’s relationship with extended family members on each side, as well as their ability to adapt to any changes that might occur as a result of granting sole custody to one parent.

Craft a Parenting Plan

Since Florida law leans in favor of shared custody arrangements, parents can go a long way in smoothing the process by developing a parenting plan. These plans are meant to detail how much time the child will spend with each parent and where the child will live. A plan should also make clear how the parents will share or divide various parental responsibilities.

The parents need to submit the plan to the court during the divorce litigation. Once approved by the court, it becomes part of the court’s order and enforceable if either spouse fails to abide by it. In other words, the parenting plan sets ground rules for the spouses to avoid unnecessary trips back to court to resolve parenting disputes.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in the Jacksonville Area

As seasoned divorce attorneys, we understand how to help craft a workable parenting plan. We can assist clients in making key decisions designed to lessen the stress, time, and cost often associated with a divorce. Our Jacksonville child custody attorneys keep parents apprised of their rights and options at every step of the process. Call us at (904) 551-4120 or contact us online to set up a free consultation to discuss your situation with a lawyer today.

Client Reviews

She took the time to listen to our concerns and advise us accordingly. She fought for us until the case was done and after the case was complete followed with us. She is one of the few attorneys I have encountered who really care.


After leaving the office I knew I had made the right choice choosing Ellis and Bryant. Their honest and in-depth knowledge gave me a new perspective about my circumstance. Not only were they looking out for me but also my family and things that could play out in the future.


During the entire process I felt safe and secure that my most important matter was just as important to her. She along with her firm worked very diligently to ensure that my rights were met and decision deliberated by the court was the appropriate and fair judicial action in regards to my case.


We had an excellent experience with TJ as our Lawyer. I couldn't be happier with the out come for my daughter's case. He was able to have her new charges along with her violatation of probation dropped. I highly recommend TJ to anyone who is looking for an honest & hard working lawyer. Thank you...


Ms Ellis took advantage of every detail and applicable law in the handling of a very contentious child custody case. Both she and Mr. Bryant were courteous and prompt in all of our correspondence. She communicated effectively with opposing counsel to facilitate a fair and equitable outcome. Highly...

Photo of Samantha Valentine Ellis and Gary T.J. Bryant checking a case, Gary is sitting while Samantha is standing, both reading the same papers on a table.

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