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29605 U.S. Highway 19 North, Suite 140, Clearwater, Florida 33761
727.787.3700 727.787.3700
Child Custody

Child Custody Lawyer in Clearwater Protecting Your Family and Your Rights to See Your Children

The goal of Florida family courts is shared parental rights and responsibilities

Florida courts encourage parents embroiled in divorce to develop a mutually acceptable custody and parenting plan for their child or children. The goal is to promote a healthy sharing of rights and responsibilities associated with childrearing. If you and the other parent are unable to develop and mutually agree on a parenting and time-sharing plan, the court intervenes and makes the decision for you at trial. It is in your best interests to have an experienced child custody attorney in your corner, to ensure that the court clearly understands your position. Attorney Jennifer C. Harrington has provided strong legal guidance in child custody, support and divorce law matters in Clearwater for more than 20 years.

In making a child custody determination, the court always considers what is in the best interests of the child. Factors include:

  • The parent most likely to encourage contact between the child and other parent
  • Emotional ties between the parents and the child
  • Financial ability to provide basic necessities for the child, including food, housing and medical care
  • Stability and permanence of the current home or living situation
  • Moral fitness and overall health of each parent
  • The child’s school record
  • The child’s preference, within reason
  • Domestic violence or child abuse charges
  • False information that was used to hide domestic violence or other charges
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan,
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child. The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse. The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.

The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.

  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

Understanding your child custody rights

Florida courts encourage shared parental responsibility and, most often, duties are shared by both parents, with each retaining full parental rights and responsibilities. Each parent then has equal rights in child custody privileges. Unless the court determines that one or both parents detrimentally affect the well-being of the children, the parents have equal rights to legal and physical custody.

What are the different types of custody?

A child resides mostly with the custodial parent or majority time-sharing parent. The child visits with the noncustodial parent.

Parents are permitted to share legal custody and share in decisions concerning school, medical care, etc., even though one parent may have majority physical custody. Joint legal custody is the common standard.

Sole custody refers to one parent having either sole physical or sole legal custody of a child. In the event the court finds one parent unfit and determines that living with that parent presents an unsafe environment for the child, the judge may grant the other parent sole physical custody.

Shared custody refers to divorced parents or parents who don’t live together sharing physical control of and decision-making responsibilities for their children.

Making changes in child custody orders requires special circumstances

Either spouse may seek a change to the existing child custody order if significant circumstances arise that warrant a modification of the current orders. For example, one spouse may attempt to show that the other has become unfit, has relocated or has refused to obey the court-ordered arrangements.

Do not face a hostile child custody battle without a skilled attorney on your side

The law office of Jennifer C. Harrington, P.A. is equipped with the necessary experience to ensure that you and your children have a secure future. Call us at 727.787.3700 or contact us online to arrange a consultation and find peace of mind. Our office hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We close for lunch daily from noon to 1 p.m. We serve Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey and Tampa.