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Child Custody

Experienced Child Custody Attorney Protects Children’s Rights in Sarasota

Nontraditional approach emphasizes cooperation between parents

Child custody disputes are understandably emotional for parents. At stake is your right to maintain a loving relationship with your child. Unfortunately, the traditional approach to litigation pits one parent against the other in an adversarial process, damaging their ability to work cooperatively for the good of their children. At Tia E. Jensen, P.A., I take a different approach. With specific education and training in child development and co-parenting, I believe in a personalized approach that addresses your child as an individual. Although I know there is a time for aggressive litigation, I also know from more than 20 years of experience that alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation or collaboration, are more appropriate for most families. Through these nontraditional processes, parents avoid placing their children at the center of a controversy. Parents not only resolve their conflicts; they also rebuild the trust necessary to make their parenting plan work smoothly for the good of their children.

Basics of child custody in Florida

In 2011, Florida adopted new language for discussing what used to be called legal custody and physical custody. Today, when we talk about the parents’ legal relationship to their minor children, there are two categories of rights:

  • Parental responsibility — This is the authority to make decisions affecting the child’s health and welfare.
  • Parenting time — This is time spent with the child, including the time you provide a residence for the child.

Courts generally favor shared parental responsibility and a parenting time schedule that affords each parent frequent, meaningful contact with the child. However, there may be grounds for awarding sole parental responsibility to one parent and for limiting a parent’s contact with the child.

A cooperative approach to child custody issues in Sarasota divorces

The most common reason for a child custody dispute is divorce. For a divorce to be finalized, parents must either negotiate a parenting plan or litigate the issue before a judge. If both parents are sound, responsible, and engaged in their children’s lives, litigation is generally unnecessary. The parents can mediate the issue or settle the issue as part of their collaborative divorce process. When you visit my office for your free consultation, we can discuss your circumstances and which approach to dispute resolution is most appropriate for you.

Other child custody issues in Florida

Not every child custody dispute is part of a divorce proceeding. Other issues that arise include:

  • Emergency pickup/child custody orders — If one parent is placing the child in danger or is threatening to leave the country with the child, the other parent can get an emergency order granting sole parental responsibility.
  • Out-of-state custody orders — Florida generally recognizes custody orders from other states, but you must go through a process known as domestication.
  • Modification and enforcement — If circumstances change, or if one parent refuses to abide by the parenting plan, an aggrieved parent can make a motion in court to have the parenting plan changed or enforced. These issues can also be resolved collaboratively.
  • Relocation — When a parent wants to move more than 50 miles from his/her current residence, then that parent must comply with the relocation statute. The relocation statute is found in the Florida Statutes Section 61.13001.
  • Unmarried parents — Men who were never married to their children’s mother are not in the same legal position as ex-husbands and do not have rights of shared parental responsibility and time-sharing. Under the natural guardian statute (F.S.S. 741.301(1), an unwed mother is the primary residential custodian of the child until a court order determines otherwise. To resolve this issue outside of court, I address the mother first by way of a letter.

To best serve a client’s specific needs, my legal services are available without a retainer. If you only need my assistance for brief advice or limited tasks, you pay a low hourly rate for my work.

Contact a nontraditional family lawyer for child custody issues in Sarasota

Tia E. Jensen, P.A. provides professional and respectful child custody representation with an emphasis on parental cooperation. To learn how you can resolve your child custody dispute with less stress and expense, schedule a free consultation. Call today at 941-330-9600 or contact my Sarasota office online. My office is conveniently located in the Ringling Professional Center, 2831 Ringling Blvd.