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Child Custody/Support

Child Custody Attorneys Serving Tampa & Central FL

The twin issues of child custody and support can become contentious ones in the negotiation of a divorce settlement. Sessums Law Group, P.A. knows how to help parents navigate these disputes. A part of that involves bringing real personal compassion to what is often a very stressful situation. Our Tampa child custody lawyers then go beyond empathy and into our deep knowledge of applicable law and what it takes to secure a fair custody arrangement. 

How Child Custody Works

There are two primary facets of child custody—or, parental responsibility, as it is legally known in the state of Florida. Those two facets are physical custody and legal custody: 

  • Primary physical custody refers to where the child lives. 
  • Legal custody indicates who has access to information about the child and makes important decisions about the child’s care and upbringing.

Florida recognizes multiple custody arrangements for minor children, including:

  • Sole legal and sole physical custody to one parent
  • Joint legal custody to both parents and primary physical custody to one parent.
  • Joint legal and shared physical custody

Every situation is unique and with its own nuance. In the event a child custody case can’t be resolved in negotiation or mediation and goes to court, the decision will depend on the specifics of each individual case. 

Get knowledgeable counsel and firm advocacy by calling Sessums Law Group, P.A. at (813) 212-8330 or by filling out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Factors Courts Consider in Deciding Child Custody

In legal matters involving children, such as custody disputes or adoption cases, the court's primary concern is determining the child's best interests. This concept involves considering various factors to ensure that the outcome serves the child's overall well-being, safety, and development.

The following are common factors that courts typically consider when assessing a child's best interests:

  • Child's Wishes: Depending on the child's age and maturity level, their preferences may be taken into account, although this is balanced with other factors.
  • Safety and Protection: The court assesses the physical and emotional safety of the child, including any history of abuse or neglect.
  • Primary Caregiver: The court may evaluate who has been the child's primary caregiver and the quality of the relationship between the child and each parent or caregiver.
  • Stability and Continuity: Courts often prioritize maintaining stability and continuity in the child's life, including school, community, and relationships.
  • Parental Fitness: The court examines the mental and physical health of each parent or caregiver, as well as their ability to provide for the child's needs.
  • Co-Parenting Ability: The willingness and ability of each parent to support the child's relationship with the other parent, as well as their ability to cooperate in making decisions regarding the child's upbringing.
  • Sibling Relationships: The court considers the importance of maintaining sibling relationships and whether separating siblings would be in their best interests.
  • Cultural and Religious Considerations: If relevant, the court may consider the child's cultural and religious background and the importance of maintaining connections to those aspects of their identity.
  • Special Needs or Considerations: Any special needs or circumstances of the child, such as medical or educational needs, are taken into account.
  • Parental History: The court may consider the history of each parent's involvement in the child's life, including past parenting practices and any history of substance abuse or criminal activity.
  • Geographical Considerations: The proximity of each parent's residence to the child's school, community, and support network may also be a factor.
  • Financial Considerations: While not determinative, the financial stability of each parent and their ability to provide for the child's material needs may be considered.

In most circumstances, the goal is that the parents, with the help of their Tampa child custody attorneys, can work out a parenting plan that contains the scope of each parent’s responsibilities and the terms of their time-sharing. It is when parents are unable to reach an agreement that the question goes before the court. 

Sessums Law Group, P.A. has built up a strong record in court, and we’re always prepared to go to litigation when that’s what it takes to protect our clients and their children. We also know that it’s often best for all concerned when an agreement can be reached in a less contentious manner. To that end, we offer collaborative divorce services to facilitate the search for common ground. 

How Child Support Is Determined in Florida

Regardless of what sort of parenting plan is reached, both parents have the obligation to financially support their children. This is true even for a non-custodial parent who may not have visitation rights

When the parents are divorcing, the issuance of a support order will be a standard part of the settlement process. If the parents were never married, the birth mother must go to court and ask a court to order paternity testing. Once a father is conclusively identified, the mother can seek child support.

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Our Settlements & Verdicts

Sessums Law Group, P.A. Attorneys Take Pride in Delivering Exceptional Results for Our Valued Clients

Our top priority is to devise customized legal strategies that are tailored to the unique legal needs of our clients, no matter how simple or complicated their situations, might be.

  • $6,000,000.00 Recovery Fraud Civil Action

    Sessums Law Group, P.A. successfully recovered $6,000,000.00 for a client in a fraud civil action.  Prior to the client’s divorce, the client negotiated and executed an agreement with his wife’s boyfriend that sought that the boyfriend would have no contact with the client’s wife.

  • $2,740,000.00 Wrongful Death Hit/Run of Motorcyclist

    Representation of the plaintiff hit from behind on his motorcycle by a driver who was allegedly drunk at the time of the accident.  Sued the defendant; the bar that the defendant had been drinking and the defendant’s employer.

  • $1,929,000.00 Verdict Real Estate Deficiency

    Representation of estate in real estate deficiency claim resulting in joint and several liability verdict against various doctors and chiropractors.

  • $1,000,000.00 Settlement Collision

    Representation of estate in an automobile and tractor trailer collision that resulted in multiple deaths.

  • Confidential Settlement Amount Medical Malpractice

    Client was burned with a hot pack after delivering her son via Cesarean section.

  • Confidential Settlement Amount Nursing Home Negligence

    Representation of the Personal Representative of the Estate of the patient who died due to negligent care while in the care of the nursing home.

  • Confidential Settlement Amount Trolley Accident

    Representation of passengers who were enjoying a sight- seeing tour aboard a trolley when the trolley was hit by a bus. The passengers suffered soft tissue injuries.

  • Confidential Settlement Amount Hit & Run

    Sessums Law Group was recently successful in settling a case for a hard working Polk County man whose hit and run accident resulted in a need for a knee replacement.  The defendant argued that our client had caused the accident.  We were able to prove through expert accident reconstruction testimony that the accident happened as our client testified despite the minimal damage involved.

  • Confidential Settlement Stolen Property

    Client’s vehicle was burglarized and her engagement and wedding rings stolen. The perpetrator pawned the stolen items to a local pawn shop. The pawn shop ignored the hold order from the police department and sold the engagement and wedding rings. After suit filed for the Plaintiff, a confidential settlement was reached with the pawn shop for the value to our client of her stolen rings.

Florida Attorneys with Proven Expertise, Devoted to Exceptional Service

"Our firm believes in the integrity of the needs of the each client we represent. We are passionate about obtaining the maximum results allowable under the law for each client."

- Mark A. Sessums