Child Custody Attorney in Fort Myers​

family In 2018, 20.5% of the population in Fort Myers was under the age of 18. Because there are so many children in the city, there are frequent custody battles. Whether you’re going through a divorce or have children with an ex-partner, child custody must be established when there are kids involved. By working with a Fort Myers child custody attorney, you can fight for your child. Patrick McLain Law understands how much your family matters to you, and we’re ready to take on your case.

mother hugging a child

Florida Child Custody Laws

For more than a decade, Florida courts have dropped the word “custody” and exchanged it with “parental responsibility.” The state relies on shared parental responsibility to determine custody cases, favoring equal time-sharing and decision-making between both parents.

That said, every child custody case is unique. A judge won’t immediately order a completely equal parenting plan. Rather, they will look at the circumstances surrounding the case. They aim to do what’s in the best interest of the child. If that decision is to give one parent sole custody, then the judge will do that. However, sole custody is rarely awarded in Florida and is usually only done so when there is a history of domestic abuse or drug use.

What is the Best Interest of the Child?

Most judges believe that the best interest of the child is to have both parents involved in the life of the child. Typically, this means awarding each parent somewhat equal visitation and decision-making ability. 

To determine what’s in the best interest of a child, a judge considers many factors. They consider the physical and mental health of each parent, cultural or religious considerations, and the stability of the home environment. If a child has special needs, the judge will take into account how each parent accommodates those needs. 

When one parent has a history of excessive discipline, domestic violence, or alcohol or drug abuse, the court is likely to hold it against them. While it may not be enough to convince a drug to award sole custody to the more fit parent, it could be enough to limit physical or legal custody.

How to Resolve Child Custody Disputes

In some cases, two parents agree on every aspect of child custody. They can create a parenting plan that addresses all of the issues and have it signed by a judge. However, it’s more common for both parties to be in disagreement. If this occurs, the decision is left to the courts.

Before you and the other parent need to go to court, you’ll need to go to mediation. The goal of mediation is to have both parents discuss custody and come to an agreement. To facilitate the mediation process, there is a third-party mediator in the room. You’re allowed to bring your attorney to mediation and they will help you determine whether or not an agreement is fair. 

If you or the other party does not like the mediation agreement, you’ll need to go to court. You’re not obligated to sign an agreement in mediation; it’s just required that you attend.

Working with a Fort Myers Child Custody Attorney

In the event that your case goes to court, your child custody attorney will build a case for you. They’ll fight for you in court and will work to get you the agreement you want. Although there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the outcome you want, an aggressive attorney greatly improves the odds. Call Patrick McLain Law today to learn more about family law and what we can do for you.