We know without question that our strongest responsibility as St. Petersburg child custody attorneys is to ensure that the divorce process goes as smoothly as possible and that a parenting plan is developed that will benefit the children in the best way possible once the divorce is final.
As a general rule, we want to spare children from litigation. While our family law firm is made up of trial lawyers who excel in the courtroom, we know without a shadow of a doubt that matters involving children should be kept out of the courtroom except as a last resort.
Mediation, alternative dispute resolution, and psychological help are the preferred tools to minimize conflict and ensure your children emerge from your divorce healthy and ready to thrive.
You can expect the following in your Pinellas County custody case:
A determination at the outset as to whether one of the parents has a serious problem that might make them unfit to have regular visits with their child. This can be the case where parents are drug abusers, alcohol abusers, or domestic violence abusers. These cases are unique, often requiring swift intervention from the beginning. This can be done outside of court in certain circumstances or inside of court by filing an emergency motion or injunction.
A temporary parenting plan to set the rules of the road: in the vast majority of divorces, we have two parties living under separate rooms and separate households. In a divorce, this can become what is in effect a Wild West scenario regarding where the child should go. In these cases, the best thing we can do is execute a parenting plan (even on a temporary basis) to help make sure that there is a framework for when the child should be with Mom and when the child should be with Dad. This can minimize conflict between the parents, and provide at least a stopgap solution until a full parenting plan is put in place.
The use of third-party tools like psychologists, counselors, and parenting coordinators to ensure that the parents are working together as well as possible and that the children are coping with the divorce as well as can be expected.
The use of third-party experts, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to help disagreeing parents develop the best possible parenting plan.
Strategic litigation: some cases must go to court in order to get the right result. When this happens, we want to build the strongest case possible and do it in a strategic manner. It's a balancing act of making sure that we get the right result in court while minimizing collateral damage to children by protecting them from the court process as much as possible.
St. Petersburg courts are unique, in that Pinellas County judges have taken a very conservative attitude in contested custody matters.
While there has been a push nationwide for more frequent and liberal visitation with children and their fathers, including rotating custody and 50-50 equal timesharing agreements, St. Petersburg is still much more “old school” in how the judges want to see a parenting plan executed.
St. Petersburg judges routinely prefer parenting plans that grant one parent majority time sharing over the children. While it is true that traditionally the mother gets majority time sharing, that is not always the case.
Judges are unlikely to award equal time sharing after a trial in litigation unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
When judges agree to equal time sharing plans, they often encourage the parties to build in escape clauses that will allow either party to come back to court in the future — even without a substantial change in circumstances — to change the parenting plan.
In other words, as a general rule the judges in St. Petersburg feel very strongly that equal timesharing is not in the best interest of the children.
If you are someone who prefers more conservative parenting plans, then this is great news for you. But even if you are not someone who prefers more conservative parenting plans, with the right help you can overcome this news.
Your first step to getting your custody questions answered is to schedule a consultation with a St. Petersburg custody lawyer. Our consultations last approximately 60 minutes. After diving into your particular situation, we’ll help you develop a game plan for reaching your child custody goals. We will also go over the different types of parenting plans specific to Pinellas County that might be a good fit for your family. Our law firm is located in downtown St. Petersburg on Second Avenue South, just minutes off of I-375. If you prefer, we can coordinate a consultation over Skype or other electronic communication. To begin, simply call 727-493-5610 or fill out the contact form below.