If you are getting a divorce and have children you may want to consider a child custody attorney Tampa FL respects. The McKinney Law Group understands the complexities and laws of child custody in Florida. As a family law firm, we take a zealous approach to serving our clients’ needs and work as diligently as possible to get positive results. If you would like to speak with a Tampa child custody attorney, call our firm now.
Understanding Child Custody Laws
When you call a child custody attorney Tampa FL provides, you will have the opportunity to ask personal questions and discuss your concerns. In the meantime, it is important to have a general understanding of the relevant laws and litigation. In Florida, the same child custody and visitation laws that apply to a divorcing couple also apply to a couple who were never married but have children together.
The state encourages parents to take an equal share in parental responsibility. This means both parents have the opportunity to make important decisions about their child’s health care, religious upbringing, morals, education, and so forth. Oftentimes, one parent is awarded primary custody and the other receives visitation rights. A child custody attorney in Tampa FL can discuss what may be best for you and your child during your consultation.
If the parents cannot come to an agreement or are imprisoned or institutionalized, the courts might make the decisions on issues regarding child custody. The courts are legally required to consider the best interests of the child by reviewing factors such as:
- The parents’ moral standards and capabilities
- The preferences of the child
- Each parent’s demonstrated ability to take care of the child
- School records of the child
- The length of time the child has resided in a stable environment
- Whether or not abuse was a factor in the divorce
- Whether or not drugs or alcohol abuse was a factor in the divorce
- Any other issues deemed relevant by the court regarding child custody decisions
A child custody attorney Tampa FL counts on can let you know what your odds are of gaining custody of your child. In addition, if your spouse has already retained a lawyer, it may be in your best interest to do the same as soon as possible.
Parenting Plans in Florida
The Florida court system requires parents to create and submit a parenting plan if time sharing of the child will occur. If the judge believes the plan supports the best interests of the child, it will likely be approved. Otherwise, the court has the legal right to create a plan on behalf of the parents. This means if parents can agree upon a plan, the entire process might be easier and smoother for all parties involved. A parenting plan usually needs to include:
- The time sharing schedule
- How parents will share responsibility for daily tasks
- A designation of who will be responsible for health care, education, and other activities
- How parents will communicate with the child or children when they are not in their respective household
Can a Child’s Therapist Testify in a Custody Case?
Custody cases can be emotional and stressful for those involved as the parents attempt to negotiate the living arrangement of their child or children. When parents are unable to come to an agreement and a custody battle ensues, a judge may have to decide which parent is more fit to care for the child. If the child has seen, or is currently seeing, a therapist then the therapist is allowed to give testimony in the case. In this scenario, a child custody attorney Tampa FL families trust may request that the therapist testifies on behalf of their client.
Having a Child’s Therapist Testify
Having a child’s therapist speak in court can be very helpful. When a child’s therapist is called to testify in court, their role is not necessarily to support the agenda of the Tampa FL child custody attorney, but rather to speak on behalf of the child and what’s in the child’s best interest. They can only speak as a fact witness, however, so they can discuss experiences and observations of the child’s treatment, but they usually can’t offer an opinion.
Many therapists don’t like to appear in court because they don’t like to get involved in high-conflict family court issues. They may refuse to testify, in which case the parent’s child custody attorney in Tampa FL must subpoena the therapist to get them to testify in court.
Hiring a Psychologist as an Expert Witness
Different from a therapist a psychiatrist or psychologist as an expert witness can offer more than facts. A child custody attorney Tampa FL residents choose may hire an expert witness to assess the parents, the child and the parent-child relationship, then offer testimony regarding the assessment. The expert witness will often assess parenting skills, the caregiver effect and the mental health of both parents to determine if they are fit to parent. In their testimony, they can provide facts, observations, opinions and even recommendations for the custody arrangement.
Either side may call expert witnesses to testify in a custody case. Having a skilled and experienced expert witness can be vital to a case, especially if you hire one that shares similar views. For example, if you believe your former spouse is unfit to parent because of past drinking problems, then it would be helpful to hire an expert witness who specializes in parental drinking impacts on a child. Specifically, it is best to have a witness that shares a view that supports your agenda.
Hiring a Lawyer Child Custody Attorney Tampa FL Parents Turn to for Help
An experienced child custody attorney Tampa FL offers will be able to determine whether your child’s therapist or an expert witness will be helpful to the case. If so, they are able to subpoena them for court to ensure the necessary testimony is given. Because there is so much at risk in a child custody case, it is vital to have a knowledgeable child custody attorney Tampa FL community members rely on to protect your legal rights, fight for your interests and properly navigate your case in court.
A child custody attorney Tampa FL provides can help to create a plan that benefits the children and the parents. If agreements cannot be made, mediation or arbitration might ensue.
To schedule an appointment with a child custody attorney Tampa FL has to offer, call The McKinney Law Group at 813-906-0048.