Lakeland Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody is the arrangement separated or divorced parents use to determine care for their child. These agreements cover where the child would live, how visitation will be handled, and how decisions about the child’s care will be made. The Lakeland lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group are exceptionally qualified to help you navigate the child custody process.

Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara

Content last updated on: April 3, 2024

Sorting out child custody agreements can be stressful, emotional, and confusing. Florida has several laws determining how responsibility and time-sharing gets allocated between parents.

Hiring a family law attorney can help you have someone on your side, advocating for you and your child every step of the way. Whether you need an attorney who knows the child custody process, how to get full custody under Florida law, and how to change existing parenting plans, the Lakeland lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group can help you safeguard your child’s future.

Why Choose O'Mara for Your Child Custody Case?

In child custody cases, it can be beneficial to have someone knowledgeable about the nuances of Florida state law. Consulting a lawyer practiced in family and child custody cases can relieve some of the stress involved in the process.

The O’Mara Law Group’s team of Lakeland lawyers is uniquely qualified to handle your case. Mark O’Mara has more than 40 years of experience in the Florida legal community and is Board Certified in Family Law. He additionally is a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mark Rabinowitz has been Board Certified in Marital and Family Law in Florida since 1999. He has served on the Marital and Family Law Certification Committee of The Florida Bar, and has served as a member of the Family Law Rules Committee.

How Is Child Custody Determined?

In Florida, child custody involves two aspects— parental responsibility and time-sharing. Both aspects are governed by a parenting plan, which lays out the roles and responsibilities of the parents.

Parental responsibility refers to each parent’s right to make major decisions about the child’s care and upbringing. It encompasses decisions about health care, education, religion, and well-being.

Time-sharing refers to where the child will live and how to divide up visitation.

Custody is typically determined through a legal process that takes a variety of elements into account. Mediation is typically the first step in determining custody. This step would involve a private negotiation with an independent third party to settle disputes outside the court system.

In contested divorces and child custody negotiations where parties cannot agree, a judge may need to determine the parenting plan. The judge’s main focus is determining what’s in the child’s best interest. The judge would primarily consider the child’s safety and well-being as well as each parent’s ability to care for the child.

The income of each parent, the expenses the child might require, and how much time each parent spent with the child in the past are important considerations for a family law judge. The judge may also consider the child’s preferences depending on the child’s age.

Child support payments are an important but often contentious part of these child custody determinations. Our child support lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group can help you calculate and secure fair amounts of child support.

How to Get Full Child Custody in Florida

Florida law outlines the specifics of which cases may result in full child custody being granted. The law explicitly states that Florida’s public policy is that “each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents.” However, if the court determines that shared custody would be detrimental to the child’s well-being, the court may grant sole custody to one parent.

Incidents of child abuse or domestic violence may be considered as evidence that shared custody would be detrimental to the child. In such instances, a judge may award sole child custody.

Other factors that may cause a judge to award sole custody include a parent’s untreated mental illness, substance abuse, or incarceration.

Child Custody FAQs

Can I Relocate with My Child?

In cases where joint child custody has been assigned and both parents agree to the relocation of the child, a written agreement with an updated time-sharing arrangement is needed before you can relocate with your child. This agreement would then be submitted to the court.

When an agreement cannot be reached, you can file a petition with the court and serve the petition to the other parent. This petition must contain the following:

  • A description of your new location, including the city, state, and address
  • The mailing address and telephone number for your new residence
  • The date you plan on relocating with your child
  • A detailed statement outlining the reasons for relocating
  • A proposal for an updated time-sharing arrangement
  • A clear statement informing the other parent of their right to file an objection to the petition

The process for pursuing a relocation petition in Florida is complex and detailed. Hiring an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the relocation will ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. The O’Mara Law Group’s Lakeland lawyers are always ready to help advocate for you.

How Long Does a Child Custody Case Take?

The duration of child custody proceedings heavily depends on factors such as whether child custody is contested and how busy the court’s calendar is. Consulting a family lawyer about the facts of your case can give you a better estimate of how long your case may take.

What Is Time-sharing?

In child custody cases, a time-sharing schedule governs where the child lives and how much visitation time a child spends with each parent. The schedule organizes time on weekends, overnights, holidays, and other specifics from the child custody arrangement.

A time-sharing agreement can either be developed and agreed upon by both parents or be assigned by the court if the parties cannot agree on a schedule for shared custody.

Child Custody Agreement Modifications

If you need to modify the parenting plan or child custody arrangement after it has been implemented, these changes would need to be approved by the court. Under Florida state law, a parenting plan may be changed if the parent requesting the change can prove both of the following:

  1. There has been a “substantial, material, and unanticipated” change in circumstances.
  2. Changing the agreement in light of these circumstances is in the child’s best interests.

For example, if one parent develops a medical condition that leaves them unable to uphold their part of the parenting plan, a child custody modification would be warranted.

Rely on the O'Mara Law Group for Your Child Custody Case

Contested child custody negotiations can create difficult and emotionally taxing situations for parents who want the best for their children. Add to that the complexities of the legal system, which can quickly become overwhelming. Hiring a child custody attorney may be a beneficial option for you.

The O’Mara Law Group has been helping good people through difficult situations for over 35 years. We can be your trusted advocates during the child custody process. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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(863) 603-3206

500 Florida Ave S
Suite 407
Lakeland, FL 33801

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