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Child Custody & Visitation Attorney in Orlando

Fighting for the Best Interests of You & Your Child

The intent behind Florida family law is to cause as little disruption as possible on children trapped in the middle of a divorce. Disruption will necessarily happen, but the court works to minimize the intrusion divorcing parents have on younger children. Consequently, it’s important that divorcing parents have a plan in place that promotes the best interests of the children during divorce proceedings.

Florida family court judges employ the legal test known as the “best interests of the child” when determining custody and visitation rights of the parents. It is important to remember that each parent has a due process right to raise their child as well as enjoying the care and comfort of their offspring. A parent’s due process rights are not absolute and are weighed against the best interests of the child when fashioning a parenting/custody plan. The court does, however, operate from the premise that both parents are to engage in child rearing fully and share the duties of raising a child despite the dissolution of the marriage. Florida law specifically states that there is no presumption for the children to be with the mother.

If you are in need of a child custody or visitation attorney in Orlando, reach out to my firm, Beryl Thompson-McClary at (321) 329-5369 for a consultation today!

Will the Court Approve My Parenting Plan?

The best interests of the child test is not an idle legal theory. Rather, Florida statutes delineate the factors a judge must consider when balancing the best interests of the child against parental rights. Knowing and understanding the various factors judges consider helps the astute divorce litigant aid their attorney to reach the best result while embroiled in a custody battle.

As an aside, the parties should not wage a custody war solely to extract pain and retribution for a failed marriage. Placing your children in the middle of an argument they did not want to enter and forcing them to take sides against two people they love and admire is an untenable situation for a child. Bearing that in mind is more persuasive than stamping your foot and demanding things go your way to the detriment of your child’s best interests.

Florida judges consider many if not all of the following to ascertain the child’s best interests when considering custody, visitation, and a parenting plan.

For a court to approve a parenting plan, the plan must contain the following:

  • Describe in detail how the parents will share the responsibility for the task of raising a child
  • Include time-sharing schedules so that each parent gets to spend time with their child
  • Designate responsibility for health insurance, school-related matters
  • Specify the methods of communication between parents and children

The judge determines whether the parenting plan satisfies the best interests of the child involved. Several factors a judge considers when examining the best interests of the child involve the parent’s fitness to raise a child. The court will consider how the parties treat each other, how they treat the children, and whether the parents can be reasonable when dealing with the children rather than being selfish in addition to protecting their children from the litigation. How a parent interacts with their child is important. Additionally, the court must consider the moral, physical, and emotional fitness of each parent. A critical component of this inquiry is whether either parent is suffering from substance abuse. Judges also want both parents to impose discipline, have regular routines, and keep up with homework, meals, and bedtimes. Courts are concerned with identifying which parent is better able to care for the child based on the child’s developmental needs.

Both divorcing parents must put their children ahead of their own needs. Although the compulsion to try to hurt the other party may be high, bearing in mind that the children suffer and they did not choose this fight will help persuade the judge that your wants should be honored.

Striving for Workable & Durable Child Custody Solutions

When parents are involved in a divorce or paternity dispute, their parental relationship and the well-being of their child typically constitute a primary area of focus. As the founding and managing partner of Beryl Thompson-McClary, my choice to focus on this legal specialty stems from a commitment to giving a voice to those who otherwise might be ignored. Because of my dedication to developing a knowledge of child development, my approach to child custody and visitation issues involves crafting innovative solutions that promote communication and an amicable co-parenting relationship between parents.

Orlando Child Custody Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary Can Make a Difference

My role is to promote a constructive parenting plan while striving to mitigate efforts to alienate a child from his or her parent. My co-parenting approach has led many fathers to seek me out to protect their rights. Regardless of which parent my law firm represents, my goal is to be part of the solution by diffusing conflict and resolving issues rather than part of the problem by encouraging animosity and promoting a high-conflict custody dispute.

Based on my 28+ years of legal experience, which includes my participation in hundreds of trials and administrative proceedings and thousands of settlements, I have the expertise and experience to navigate through intense animosity and find mutually agreeable solutions. We have built a reputation for promoting the rights and responsibilities of parents while mitigating the stress and negative impact on our clients’ children. Despite this problem-solving approach designed to ease the adverse impact of a potentially contentious custody dispute, my experience in litigation means I am prepared to proceed to trial to obtain the best outcome for my clients.

My extensive experience handling thousands of divorce and child custody cases has furnished us with the ability to successfully handle the most difficult child custody disputes, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Parental relocations
  • Pattern of alienation against the other parent
  • Parental fitness issues involving a parent (e.g. drug use, alcohol abuse, child abuse, child neglect)
  • Domestic violence against the other parent
  • High conflict parental relationship

Advantages to Avoiding the Courtroom in High Net-Worth Custody Disputes

Because of my many years of experience handling thousands of child custody cases, our law firm is sought out by a number of affluent and celebrity clients. Wealthy parents and their children have more to gain by keeping their custody and visitation issues discreet and civil. When our attorneys represent clients in high-asset divorce cases, we work with our clients to construct a plan rather than filing the action and figuring out matters on the fly.

This strategy usually focuses on certain objectives:

  • Mitigating the harm to your family’s underlying financial structure through protracted litigation
  • Keeping your child custody and parenting issues out of the public eye
  • Protecting the best interest of your children if your spouse elects to engage in alienating behavior

What If I Cannot Agree with the Other Parent on a Parenting Plan?

While the traditional terms “child custody,” “visitation,” “primary residential parent,” and “noncustodial parent” often are used interchangeably, Florida law dealing with parental rights and responsibilities changed dramatically in 2008. Judges now use the terms “shared parental responsibility” or “sole parental responsibility,” “majority time-sharing” or “equal time-sharing,” and “parenting plans.”

Absent a basis for deviating from the default position, Florida judges will award shared parental responsibility. Under this arrangement, both parties cooperate and participate in making parenting decisions. A parent with sole parental responsibility exercises his or her discretion in making everyday decisions regarding his or her child, as well as major decisions about education, religion, and medical care.

Parenting plans, which define the time-sharing relationship between a minor child and both parents, can be crafted by mutual agreement or a judge. While an amicably negotiated parenting plan generally will be more acceptable to both parents than one imposed by a judge, there are many situations where parents legitimately cannot reach an agreement.

If the court must make the decision, the judge will rely on the “best interest of the child” standard based on the following factors:

  • Physical and mental health of the parents
  • Gender and age of the minor child
  • Benefit of maintaining a stable home environment
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Wishes of the child (based on age/maturity)
  • Parents’ respective ability to deal with special needs of the child (if applicable)
  • Emotional abuse or excessive discipline by a parent
  • Child’s relationship with siblings or others in the household
  • Capacity of child to adapt to changes in his or her community and/or school
  • Substance abuse by a parent
  • Sexual or physical abuse by a parent

Practical Considerations in Child Custody Cases in Florida

In the absence of an agreement between the parents, the court will consider these factors when determining the best interest of the child. We work diligently to help parents put aside intense negative emotions that can derail potentially effective parenting plans. This process involves focusing on the needs and well-being of the child rather than one’s feelings toward the other parent. Parents who exhibit a willingness to encourage frequent and continuing contact with the other parent have a distinct advantage in contested custody disputes.

Many parents looking for a father’s rights attorney in Orlando seek out my law firm because of our success in crafting parenting plans that grant equal time-sharing to both parents. Fathers seeking equal parenting time must be realistic about their parental role during the marriage and their availability. Sometimes clients express a plan to have a new significant other or grandparent watch their child when the parent is at the office or traveling for work. Because of our experience in many custody disputes and knowledge of Florida law, we guide our clients away from this type of faulty plan. The court will take a dim view of a request to deny parenting time to the other parent, so the child can put with a babysitter, even a grandparent. Proposals of splitting parenting time should be realistic based on your business, employment, and travel commitments.

Call Beryl Thompson-McClary Today

As your Orlando child custody and visitation attorney, I use creativity, persuasiveness, and experience to assist you in negotiating parenting plans that clearly define your time-sharing and parental responsibilities. When our clients are worried that the other parent’s past bad decisions or unsafe conduct put their children at risk, we do not hesitate to take a case to trial. We have law offices in Orlando and practice in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia counties.

To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, you can call our office at (321) 329-5369.

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