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Child Custody Lawyers in Tampa


Get assistance from an experienced Florida Child Custody Attorney

During a divorce, if you and your spouse have minor children, you will be faced with making difficult decisions regarding your future responsibilities toward your children, where your children are to reside and how decisions affecting your children’s future will be made. We have assisted countless parents in these all-important matters.

Quinn Law Firm, P.A. can assist you with most child custody cases, including:

  • Custody
  • Visitation
  • Paternity Issues

Custody Explained: Parenting Plans under Florida Law

Effective October 1, 2008, the law in the State of Florida as it relates to child custody and visitation changed. Prior to the enactment of this New Statute, the Court was faced with determining the primary residential parent and the secondary parent, one who would exercise visitation with his or her children.

Now with the advent of Florida Statute 61.13, Parenting Plan and Timesharing, in the event that you and your spouse are unable to agree to a Parenting Plan after a divorce, the Court is required to formulate and implement one which defines the roles, responsibility and decision-making authority of each parent to each child.

A Parenting Plan is a document created to govern the relationship between both parties and the many decisions that must be made regarding their minor children. The Parenting Plan must contain a Timesharing schedule for the parents and each child involved. The issues concerning children under this Plan include, but are not limited to, education, healthcare and physical, social and emotional well-being of the child. In creating the Plan, all circumstances between the parties including the parties’ historic relationship, any domestic violence and other factors must be taken into consideration.

If you and your spouse are unable to agree, the Court must create and enforce a Timesharing schedule. The Timesharing schedule must be included in the overall parenting plan and specify the times, including overnights and holidays that each child will spend with each parent.

If developed and agreed to by the parents of a child, it must be approved by the Court. If the parents cannot agree to a timesharing arrangement and parenting plan, the timesharing schedule shall then be established by the Court. Our lawyers are here to assist you with formulating a parenting plan and timesharing arrangement.

Visitation Rights under Florida Law

The Florida legal system refers to visitation rights in terms of a parenting plan that contains a time-sharing schedule. Unfortunately, dealing with custody and arriving at an agreement about time-sharing are often problematic, which can lead to disputes. A visitation attorney can help you address visitation issues through mediation, settlement negotiations or, if necessary, by taking the custody matter to trial.

Whether time-sharing is disputed or not, Florida courts require that parents create agreements that are as specific as possible about visitation or time-sharing. Addressing time-sharing factors in the agreement establishes visitation rights between parents. Many courts provide visitation guidelines that a parenting plan should address, such as the following Time-sharing designed to deal with relocation and long-distance parenting Dates the child will spend time with each parent for:

  • Weekdays
  • Weekends
  • Holidays
  • Holiday weekends
  • Christmas break
  • Spring/Easter break
  • Summer vacation

You can discuss your situation with Quinn Law Firm to work out an optimum time-sharing schedule for your children. Long-distance parenting generally requires spending longer periods of time with children, as opposed to frequent shorter periods of time. Whether a parent has sole custody or joint custody is also a factor.

For example, in a sole custody arrangement, the non-custodial parent may spend one night a week and every other weekend with the child. However, with joint custody, parents may work out a rotating schedule where each parent spends an equal amount of time with the child, alternating weekends, weeks, or holidays.

If you are facing the decision of filing for a divorce and need trusted legal advice, please contact us today to arrange an appointment with our visitation lawyer.

Establishing Paternity

Before divorce and cohabitation outside of marriage was as prevalent as it is today, paternity was not as much of an issue. Generally, when a married mother gives birth to a child, the husband is presumed to be the father. Paternity or fatherhood typically becomes an issue when childbirth occurs and the mother is not married. And the reason paternity becomes an issue is usually because children have rights and benefits related to paternity. Quinn Law Firm can help you take legal action to establish paternity or protect your rights in a lawsuit.

DNA testing

DNA testing can be a means of determining paternity without a court order. Genetic testing consists of swabbing inside the cheek of the alleged father to collect cell tissue, and then comparing the cell tissue to samples taken from the mother and the child. A qualified laboratory technician analyzes the samples and determines the probability of a genetic relationship. Once certified, the DNA test results are adequate for an administrative order that establishes paternity.

However, if the alleged father does not consent to having a DNA test done, an attorney can petition the court for paternity proceedings. When the court hears a case, judges often order an alleged father to DNA testing, and afterward the judge issues a court order that either affirms or denies the man’s paternity based on the test outcome. Such paternity orders are judicial instead of administrative orders.

Reasons for establishing paternity

There are many different reasons to establish paternity, including:

  • To obtain child support from the alleged father
  • To gain visitation or custody rights to a child
  • To obtain health insurance from the father
  • To receive benefits from a life insurance policy
  • To establish parentage in an inheritance
  • To obtain Social Security, military, or veteran’s benefits
  • For children to discover the identity of their father
  • To obtain family medical history information
  • To obtain the right to make legal decisions about the child
  • To add the father’s name to a birth certificate

When both couples consent, acknowledgement of paternity and legitimation are two other ways of establishing paternity. If you want to establish paternity, or face a divorce and need trusted legal advice, please contact us to arrange an appointment with our paternity lawyer.