Largo Child Custody Attorney
Florida laws in this area have changed significantly over the years. If our grandfathers got divorced, the tender years doctrine usually applied. According to this doctrine, mothers almost always received full legal and physical custody of the children, usually with no questions asked. Later, if our fathers got divorced, Florida’s joint custody law usually applied. The children “lived” with one parent, usually the mother, and “visited” the other parent, usually the father.
Today, Florida has a co-parenting law. This law presumes that children benefit when they have consistent and meaningful contact with both parents. This shift has affected not only the law, but also how the law is applied. Since both parents presumptively take active child-rearing roles, the traditional time sharing arrangement has fallen out of favor with many families, and perhaps more importantly, with many family law judges.
The seasoned Largo child custody attorneys at The Reep Law Firm haven’t been practicing law since our grandfathers got divorced. But they do have substantial experience. As a result they are familiar with all the local rules in all the local courts. That includes the unwritten rules, as well as the written ones. As a result, our professional team is well-positioned to find long lasting and cost effective solutions for your changing family.
In light of the trend toward co-parenting, the traditional every other weekend/every other holiday model no longer works well for some families. Some viable alternatives include:
- Extended Weekends: Generally in life, the cumulative effect of small changes has major results. By starting weekend visitations on Thursday and ending them on Monday, the timeshare balance moves from about 70-30 in favor of the residential parent to about 60-40.
- Block Scheduling: 50-50 timeshare divisions are becoming more popular, and more widely accepted by judges. In a block schedule arrangement, the children usually spend two weeks with Parent A, two weeks with Parent B, and then the cycle repeats. Except for some adjustments around Christmas and other major holidays, the same schedule remains in effect twelve months a year.
- Empty Nest: Strictly speaking this visitation alternative doesn’t adjust the parenting time balance. But it is very good for the children in many cases. Normally, the children move back and forth between their parents’ homes. In empty nest arrangements, the parents move back and forth, and the children always stay in the same place, which is usually the marital residence. Obviously, this novel arrangement only works if the parents live close together and are at least civil toward one another.
Despite the move toward 50-50, the law still designates a residential and a non-residential parent. The judge usually makes this designation based on several factors, such as the current informal time sharing arrangement, a child’s preference, the environment for the children in each home, and the fitness of each parent.
Roughly these same factors apply in subsequent modifications. Since the best interests of the children are subject to change, the court orders are subject to change as well. Generally, a Largo child custody attorney may successfully modify the arrangement if circumstances have materially and substantially changed.
Geographic moves and the onset or removal or a parental disability are the two most common reasons to modify a child custody order.
Most people move about ten times during their adult lives. Even a short-distance move could significantly affect the delicate pick-up and drop-off balance that most divorced families deal with every day. As for onset and removal of disability, if Father stops drinking or if Mother develops a drug habit, these changes obviously affect a child’s well being.
Typically, and often after pre-filing mediation, parents present an agreed modification order to the judge. Usually, judges sign such orders without holding hearings.
Rely on a Dedicated Pinellas County Attorney
Family law matters usually involve financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced child custody attorney in Largo, contact Reep, Coleman & Stubbendorff. After-hours visits are available.