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.