Child Custody

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Bartow Child Custody Lawyer representing polk county including lakeland

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Parent with custody of childChild custody is often one of the most contentious parts of a divorce settlement. There are two aspects of child custody in Polk County, FL: legal and physical. Legal custody dictates who will is responsible for making decisions about the children's education, medical issues and discipline. Physical custody means that the parent is granted the rights to have the child reside with him or her. In some circumstances, joint physical/legal custody can also be granted, meaning both parents take part in physical custody and/or decision-making.

Because I know how important your children are to you, deciding on child custody usually gets very heated for both parties. At Advocate Law Firm, P.A., my legal team and I will make sure we listen to your situation and understand your unique needs and desires. I know how much your family's future means to you, and I will do everything I can to uphold your rights. No matter what, my Polk County divorce firm is committed to your best interests!

How Do I Create a Parenting Plan?

During the divorce, you will have to create a parenting plan with your spouse for your minor children. A parenting plan will cover duties and functions, such as:

  • Where will your kids live and when?
  • What will the visitation schedule be?
  • How will you and your spouse make decisions about your children?


How Is Custody Determined in Polk County, Florida?

Factors that the Polk County court will consider before awarding custody include the economic situation and stability of both parents, as well as each parent's caretaking abilities, availability, and place of residence. The Polk County court will also take into consideration whether one parent will be more effective at sharing parenting time.

The FL court also decides child custody arrangements by looking at:

  • Each parent's ability to place the children's needs before their own.
  • Each parent's moral fitness.
  • Each parent's mental and physical health.
  • The ability of each parent to provide a good routine for the child.
  • The child's preference (depending on his/her maturity).
  • Whether there is any history of domestic violence, sexual violence or child abuse by either party.

At What Age Can a Child Choose to Live With a Parent in Florida?

There is no set age in Florida for a child to choose which parent to live with. The Florida court will consider the child's wishes, but they are not the only factor in custody decisions. The court will also consider the child's best interests, including factors such as the child's relationship with each parent, the stability of each parent's home, and the child's educational and extracurricular needs. 

The older the child is, the more weight the court will give their wishes. However, the court will always consider the child's best interests, even if their wishes are not in their best interests. 

If you are going through a divorce or separation in Florida, speaking with an attorney who can help you understand the custody process and protect your rights is crucial. 

The Florida Statutes state that the court shall contemplate the child's wishes "if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to express a preference." The court will also consider the child's "emotional ties with each parent," the "child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community," and the "mental and physical health of all parties involved."

I Represent Couples of All Orientations. Call (863) 644-5566 Today!

My legal team and I are proud to represent both heterosexual and same-sex couples across Florida. If you would like to receive seasoned legal counsel regarding your unique child custody issues, I encourage you to contact Advocate Law Firm, P.A. and schedule a free consultation directly with me today. Our lawyers offer legal services in English and Spanish.

Benefit from my 20+ years of family law experience by calling(863) 644-5566 now!  
Let’s begin with a free case evaluation.

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  • I couldn't have asked for more!

    I just want to publicly show my gratitude to Ms. Salvia and the rest of the team that worked on my recent case. I really felt I was represented well by Ms. Salvia and she took the lead in making strong points for my case. She was able to properly vocalize what I needed and look out for things that I didn't even consider. She is very experienced. I couldn't have asked for more. Thank you so much for help and professionalism.

    - Dalena T.
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    There was never a time that I was alone in my divorce process. The staff/team was in contact communication with me. Any questions, concerns or issues I may have had, they were front and center ready to help me through the process and educate me on what the next steps were. Divorce in and of itself is a very emotional, trying and frustrating process. Martha and the rest of the team constantly kept me in the loop of all that was occurring, what was needed, any changes that were coming and how to properly handle them. Thank you so much for making a stressful and life changing event, easier to navigate.

    - Michelle Acevedo
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    I don't typically write reviews however, in this "case" it is warranted. Having gone through a protracted and tumultuous divorce lasting almost five years would leave any living and breathing human hating lawyers even their own. well, I must say I am left with a gratitude for all the hard work, patience and guidance given me throughout my process. I would recommend Melissa Wilson to anyone that is looking for Honesty, integrity and a fighter where it counts... CASE CLOSED!!!! and so is mine. cant forget Martha her assistant, taking my calls always and listening to me vent. Thank you all in that office Sincerely Niko

    - Former Client