Child Custody Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida
Child custody disputes are some of the most challenging experiences of parents’ lives in Florida. Both divorcing and unmarried parents must legally resolve custody of their children and establish a support order when they no longer wish to keep raising their child together. Whether you are an unmarried parent in St. Petersburg or plan to divorce your co-parent, it’s essential to find an experienced St. Petersburg child custody attorney who can guide you through your case proceedings.
Legal Representation for St. Petersburg, FL, Child Custody Disputes
Many parents struggle to accept that they may lose time to spend with their children, while others are concerned about fighting for custody and protecting their children from unfit co-parents. As a result, it’s common for parents bracing for their custody disputes to unfold to hold misconceptions about their rights and legal options for securing custody. Some parents, unfortunately, try to handle their custody disputes without legal representation, only to end up with less than agreeable terms in their custody orders.
Whatever your case entails, Attorney Garth R. Goodman, PA, has the experience and professional resources you need to feel more confident about your impending custody case. Attorney Goodman has represented both unmarried parents facing paternity and custody disputes as well as married parents in divorce. As your child custody case unfolds, you can expect personalized legal counsel and ongoing support from Attorney Goodman and his team.
How is Child Custody Determined in Florida?
When married parents divorce or unmarried parents decide to live separately while they have a child together, custody needs to be legally defined by a family court judge. In St. Petersburg, FL, the family court must ensure that whatever custody order the court approves for a child is in that child’s best interests. Therefore, the judge overseeing your custody dispute will carefully evaluate you and your co-parent across various metrics, determining your fitness as parents. Some of the criteria family court judges consider for delivering their rulings in custody disputes are:
Each parent’s income and work schedule. The judge will only grant custody to a parent if they can handle their child’s basic everyday needs, such as transportation to and from school, meal times, and overnight stays.
Each parent’s overall health and medical status. Judges are unlikely to grant expansive custody rights to parents who have significant disabilities that prevent them from handling their children’s everyday needs.
The bond the child has with each parent and the child’s preference as to where they would prefer to live. When children are old enough to convey their thoughts, judges typically want to hear from them.
Any criminal history either parent may have, especially offenses involving domestic violence or child abuse of any kind.
Your St. Petersburg child custody attorney can help you compile any evidence and character references you may need to establish your fitness as a parent and ability to handle your children’s everyday needs. A family court judge must decide on physical custody, or the child’s residence, and legal custody, or which parent has the right to make important decisions on the child’s behalf. The physical and legal custody terms combine to form the parenting plan for the custody order.
Many custody determinations result in shared legal custody and carefully arranged physical custody. One parent’s work schedule may leave them more available than the other to handle their children’s everyday needs. Your St. Petersburg child custody lawyer will help you determine your goals for custody and help you make the strongest possible case for obtaining the custody rights you seek.
It’s important to remember that child support determinations unfold in tandem with custody resolutions. When one parent assumes greater physical custody than the other, they incur greater living expenses to account for their child. As a result, the other parent will likely pay child support each month to account for their share of the child’s living expenses. In Florida, child support is calculated by assessing the total cost of support the child should receive from both parents and then assigning support obligations to parents with fewer custody rights. If your child custody case ends with a support determination, you must abide by the terms of the order to the letter to avoid harsh penalties and contempt of court.
Modification and Enforcement of Child Custody Orders in Florida
The family court acknowledges that life can present unexpected challenges, some of which can interfere with a parent’s ability to adhere to a standing family court order. If something has recently changed in your life that impacts the terms of your custody order, you can file a petition for modification of the order to reflect this new change. Many parents use the modification system to request changes to custody terms after medical episodes, and some use modifications to alter their child support terms.
It’s also possible that a parent with a custody order will need the court to enforce the terms of the order when their co-parent has been noncompliant. When a parent fails or refuses to meet their obligations under a lawful family court order, they may face contempt of court. In addition, depending on the nature of their offense, they could face fines, asset seizure, jail time, and even loss of custody rights.
Attorney Goodman has helped many St. Petersburg, FL, area clients secure modifications to family court orders and compelled the enforcement of custody orders. If you must revisit any standing custody and support order for any reason, Attorney Goodman will guide you through the process and help you reach the outcome you want to see.
Facing a child custody determination can be incredibly stressful for any parent in St. Petersburg. Whether your case involves a paternity dispute, contested child support, domestic violence, or any other unique variables, the right attorney can help you approach the situation with peace of mind, guiding you toward the best possible outcome.
If you are ready to discuss an impending child custody case with an experienced attorney, Attorney Garth R. Goodman, PA, is ready to assist you. Contact us today and schedule your consultation with an experienced St. Petersburg child custody attorney.