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Tampa Child Custody Lawyer

The term “child custody” has fallen out of favor. Instead, Florida family law uses terms like “parenting time,” “residential parent,” and “non-residential parent.” But the legal workings remain largely the same. These decisions are still based on the best interests of the children. Typically, the parents agree on broad principles but disagree as to the specifics. Tampa child custody laws and procedures are designed to bridge the gap between these two things.

The Tampa child custody lawyers at The Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group always strive to keep families as intact as possible. While it’s clearly not always possible for husbands and wives to live together, it is almost always possible for mothers and fathers to co-parent. To meet this goal, there are a number of options available, and courts usually approve any modifications that are in the children’s best interests. We always work toward sustainable solutions that help your children grow up in a positive emotional environment.

Parenting Time Arrangements in Tampa

The daily time-sharing schedule is the most important part of Florida parenting plans. Whether they admit it or not, children need scheduling and structure. At the same time, busy parents who are managing separate households and separate lives need flexibility. So, there are basically four weekday time-sharing plans:

  • 50/50: The children spend every other week with each parent. This arrangement obviously only works if the parents live very close to each other, preferably in the same ZIP code.

  • 60/40: The children spend Monday afternoon through Friday morning with one parent and every long weekend with the other parent. This model is quite popular with parents who want to maximize their parenting time and also want to live independently from each other.

  • 70/30: The non-residential parent has child custody from Friday evening through Sunday evening. This plan is good for parents who cannot spend much time with the children, for whatever reason, yet they still want as much contact as possible.

  • 80/20: The once-mandatory “every other weekend” arrangement has largely fallen out of favor in Florida. The 80/20 split is usually too much time with one parent and not enough time with the other one.

All these time-sharing arrangements usually include a weekday evening visitation. Typically, these schedules also follow an every-other-holiday pattern, except for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Usually, the non-residential parent has parenting time for the majority of summer vacation.

Child Custody Factors in Florida

If the parents are unable to agree on a time-sharing arrangement and parenting plan, the Tampa judge will assign one based on the factors listed in Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes. Some of these factors include:

  • Child’s Preference: Florida does not have an age cutoff in this area. In the past, judges have entertained suggestions from children as young as eight or ten and rejected them from children as old as fifteen or seventeen.

  • Commitment to Co-Parenting: If a parent is difficult during the divorce proceeding, perhaps because s/he hired a “bulldog” lawyer who is very confrontational, the judge usually assumes that the parent will behave the same way going forward. That conclusion favors the other parent.

  • Status Quo: If the current arrangement is working reasonably well, most judges will not make wholesale changes unless there is substantial evidence which suggests that such changes would be good. That could be something like findings of abuse in a social service investigation.

Other prominent factors include the physical and moral fitness of each parent as well as each person’s parenting skills, or lack thereof.

Reach Out to Dedicated Tampa Child Custody Lawyers

Child custody arrangements usually involve a delicate balance between everyone’s interests. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Tampa, contact The Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group. After-hours appointments are available.

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