Tampa and Sarasota Child Custody Lawyers Create Parenting Plans
Established Florida firm delivers exceptional client service focused on positive results
For parents, few issues are more important than maintaining the loving relationship they have with their children. When parents divorce or are unmarried, the question of how to care for their children requires a legal answer that also affects a parent’s right to maintain frequent, meaningful contact with their child. As your child custody advocate, Sessums Law Group, P.A. protects your parental rights as we work effectively to negotiate fair and manageable parenting plans. We provide highly personalized service geared toward producing solutions that fit your unique circumstances and accomplish your goals.
Proven attorneys explain child custody basics in Tampa and Sarasota
In 2008, the Florida legislature overhauled the state’s child custody laws, doing away with the traditional language familiar to most people. The change stemmed from a desire to emphasize parental responsibility toward the child rather than possession of the child, but the reforms also had some noteworthy practical effects, such as favoring joint parenting arrangements whenever they served the best interests of the child. Our firm will advocate for your rights and your child’s welfare in matters involving:
- Parental responsibility — No longer does Florida family law refer to child custody, whether joint or sole. The law now refers to parental responsibility, which encompasses all the duties of a parent: to provide food, shelter, clothing, and so on, and to make decisions affecting the health and welfare of the child. The law does not favor one parent over the other on the basis of gender.
- Time-sharing — The law does not refer to custodial parents, residential parents, or to physical custody or visitation. The term “full custody” is disfavored, because even if a child resides full time with one parent, the other parent might still have substantial decision-making authority over the child’s health and welfare. So the term “time-sharing” has replaced “visitation,” because that term diminished the role of a noncustodial parent to that of a mere visitor with the child. Today, all contact with the child, in or out of the home, is looked on as part of parenting time.
- Parenting plan — Instead of asking the court for a custody order, both parents can negotiate or mediate a parenting plan that contains the scope of each parent’s responsibilities and the terms of your time-sharing. If parents can’t agree on a parenting plan, the question goes before the court, which must consider factors such as parental fitness, willingness to cooperate for the good of the children, and the children’s preference if they are mature enough.
Our firm works closely with you to make sure you fully understand the law so that together we can craft strategies to achieve your goals.
Skilled lawyers advise on mandatory mediation for contested child custody
When a child custody dispute arises, either as part of a divorce or between parents who were never married, Florida law requires that parents enter into mediation. This alternative dispute resolution process is a cost-effective means of resolving differences without a trial in open court. If mediation doesn’t yield an agreement on parenting time, the issue moves to trial before a judge.
When you retain our firm for your child custody dispute, you get a dedicated team of advocates who can fight for your parental rights throughout every stage of the process.
Skillful advocates help parents obtain appropriate custody modifications
When a substantial change in circumstances occurs, we can help you file a petition seeking a change to a custody or visitation order. If you wish to move more than 50 miles away for a job opportunity, to assist an ailing relative or for some other reason, we’ll try to make a fair agreement with your fellow parent, but will submit a request to the court if need be. As in initial time-sharing determinations, judges will examine a variety of factors to see what is in the child’s best interests. Our firm also represents parents who wish to maintain the original order’s terms.
Knowledgeable advisers counsel clients on grandparent visitation rights
Outside of situations where both parents are deceased or indisposed due to health problems or incarceration, it is difficult for Florida grandparents to secure custody or visitation rights. If grandparents believe that their grandchild’s parents are unfit, it takes a strong showing to shift legal responsibility for the child. Should you believe your grandchild is at risk, we can discuss your situation and assess whether legal action is justified.
Contact an experienced Tampa and Sarasota child custody attorney to make an appointment
Sessums Law Group, P.A. advocates for Florida clients in child custody proceedings and other Florida family law matters. Please call 813-435-5058 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our office is in Sarasota, and the firm also has locations in Tampa, Lakeland and Sebring.