Child custody matters are among the most contested and emotional issues in divorce cases. However, divorces aren’t the only instances when child custody is in dispute. You may need to modify an existing child custody order, request an emergency hearing, or establish paternity to gain parental rights.
Regardless of what brought you to Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for help, we’re equipped to handle all matters related to custody and visitation in Pine Hills, FL. Our lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience handling family law matters. You can trust that we will do everything possible to protect your child’s best interests.
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How Our Pine Hills Family Law Attorneys Can Help You With a Child Custody Case
Most parents are concerned with their child’s well-being and safety. That’s why they fight to obtain custody. They believe they know what is best for their child.
However, that’s not always the case. Some parents use their children during a divorce to gain the upper hand. They may engage in parental alienation and other forms of manipulation that are harmful to a child.
At Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC, our Pine Hills family lawyers will fight to protect your children and your parental rights. We have extensive experience handling the most complex child custody cases.
When you hire our top-rated child custody lawyers in Pine Hills, FL, you can trust that we will take care of all aspects of your case; we will:
- Take immediate action to secure an emergency child custody hearing if your child is in imminent danger
- Advise you of your parental rights and your options for seeking custody
- Work with leading child custody experts, as necessary
- Help you identify your goals and work to achieve them
- Prepare and file all required documents and paperwork for your case
- Use non-adversarial methods whenever possible to negotiate a settlement
- Fiercely defend your parental rights in court
Whether you are seeking joint or sole custody, modification of a custody order, or establishing paternity, we can help. We understand the emotional toll child custody cases take on the children and parents. Our legal team will help you make sound decisions for your family and guide you every step of the way.
Contact Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced child custody attorney in Pine Hills, Florida.
An Overview of Child Custody in Pine Hills, Florida
Florida courts award two types of child custody: physical and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to a parent’s right to spend time with the child. It also refers to the parent responsible for caring for a child’s basic needs from day to day.
Courts prefer joint physical custody so that the child has ample interaction with both parents. However, the court may order sole physical custody and award a parent visitation with the child.
Even if parents share custody, children usually live with one parent most of the time to provide stability and continuity. The parent with primary custody of the children is referred to as the custodial parent.
Florida law gives a parent the right to make important decisions for their child. This right is often referred to as legal custody. These decisions may involve healthcare, education, living arrangements, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities.
If a parent has sole legal custody, they do not need to consider the other parent’s wishes or input when making decisions. However, in joint legal custody situations, both parents have an equal right to make these decisions for their children.
How Do Courts Decide Child Custody Matters in Pine Hills, FL?
The primary factor in all Florida child custody matters is the best interests of the child. Even when parents present a proposed custody order, a judge can modify the terms if they determine they are not in the child’s best interest.
Judges consider numerous factors when determining what is in a child’s best interest.
Factors judges consider in child custody disputes include:
- The living arrangements of each parent
- A parent’s ability to put the child’s needs above their own
- History of abuse, child neglect, or domestic violence
- The child’s specific needs and a parent’s demonstrated ability to meet those needs
- The geographic location of each parent’s home
- A parent’s ability and inclination to foster a close parent-child relationship between their child and the other parent
- Whether a parent intends to delegate parental duties to someone else
- The parenting duties each parent had before their separation
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The reasonable preferences of children for where they want to live
- A parent’s knowledge of a child’s friends, teachers, doctors, and daily routine
Judges can consider any factor they deem relevant to deciding the best interest of a child. The judge or a parent may request a psychological evaluation to provide additional information in contested custody cases. The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interests throughout the process.
Our experienced attorneys work to resolve custody disputes amicably. However, we understand that some parents refuse to compromise, even when it is in the child’s best interest.
Sometimes, a parent may engage in parental alienation or use children as weapons during a divorce case. In these situations, we are prepared to aggressively pursue the custody arrangement that protects your child’s safety and well-being.
Developing a Florida Parenting Plan to Present to the Court
Florida courts use a standard form for parenting plans.
While you can modify the terms to meet your needs, the court requires specific information in each parenting plan, including:
- How parents will share the day-to-day responsibilities of raising and caring for their children
- A time-sharing schedule that explains how the children will spend time with each parent
- The forms of communication the children can use to communicate with a parent when they are not with that parent
- The process for exchanging the children for visitation and time-sharing
- How parents will address and decide important matters such as medical treatment, health care, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities
Our Pine Hills child custody attorneys will work with you to ensure your child spends adequate time with each parent. We’ll also work to develop a strategy for limiting conflict between you and your ex-partner. The goal is to have a parenting plan that works well for everyone while disrupting the children’s lives as little as possible.
Through mediation and collaboration, we’ll develop a plan that aligns with your needs and objectives. It may be equal time-sharing, where the child spends almost equal time with each parent, or majority/minority time-sharing, where a child lives primarily with one parent.
Can Child Custody Orders Be Modified in Florida?
Circumstances and life events may make modifying a child custody order necessary. We can help you navigate the process of modifying an order if you have a substantial change in circumstances that occurred after the current order was issued.
You must petition the court for a modification. A judge only modifies custody when a situation justifies the modification and it is in the best interest of the child.
Examples of situations that could justify modifying custody in Pine Hills include:
- Substantial changes in a child’s needs or schedule
- A parent relocates for a job or a new marriage
- Evidence of child abuse and/or neglect
- A parent develops an illness or medical condition that prevents them from caring for a child
- A new job substantially changes the time they can spend with their child
- A parent develops an addiction that could put the child at risk of being harmed
Parents may agree to change their custody arrangement without going through the courts. We strongly recommend against this choice. Only a court order can modify child custody terms. The court cannot enforce an agreement you make with your child’s other parent unless that agreement is incorporated into an order by the court.
Child Custody Litigation vs. Child Custody Mediation in Pine Hills, FL
Custody litigation involves going to court and having a hearing. A judge hears the evidence presented by both parties and issues a ruling. Unfortunately, neither parent may be happy with the final decision.
Litigation can also be time-consuming and costly. Because judges only know what they hear in court, their decisions may not represent a family’s unique situation.
On the other hand, custody mediation is a non-adversarial process of negotiating a resolution that works best for all parties. The parents work with a neutral mediator who helps them identify problems and negotiate an agreeable compromise.
Custody mediation often results in a better outcome because parents are in control of the decisions. They can tailor a custody arrangement that meets their and their children’s needs.
How to Get to Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC From Pine Hills, FL
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Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Pine Hills Child Custody Lawyers
Dealing with child custody issues can be stressful, but help is available. Contact Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC, to schedule a free case review with a Pine Hills child custody attorney. Our legal team will work to protect your child’s stability, emotional well-being, and future.