Understanding Child Custody Laws in Florida

Child Custody Laws

Navigating the complexities of child custody laws can be challenging for parents in Florida.

Any situation involving children can be emotional for parents, which makes understanding the laws and a parent’s rights even more important. If you have questions, speaking to a Florida child custody attorney is smart. 

You can also learn more about the state’s laws here. 

Understanding Child Custody in Florida

Child custody is an important issue in any divorce or separation involving children. In Florida, the laws governing child custody are designed to prioritize the best interests of the child, ensuring their well-being and maintaining their relationship with both parents whenever possible.

Types of Custody in Florida

Florida recognizes two main types of custody: physical and legal custody. 

Physical custody refers to where the child lives, while legal custody involves decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious upbringing.

Shared Parental Responsibility

Florida law favors shared parental responsibility, meaning both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities. This arrangement requires parents to consult each other and reach mutual decisions on important aspects of their child’s life.

Time-Sharing Schedule

A time-sharing schedule is a detailed calendar that outlines when the child will spend time with each parent. Florida courts focus on crafting a schedule that serves the child’s best interest, considering factors such as the child’s age, the parents’ work schedules, and the child’s school schedule.

Factors Influencing Custody Decisions

When determining custody arrangements, Florida courts consider various factors, including:

  • The child’s emotional, physical, and developmental needs.
  • The ability of each parent to meet these needs.
  • The child’s relationship with each parent.
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment.
  • The moral fitness of each parent.
  • The willingness of each parent to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent.

Parenting Plan

In Florida, divorcing parents are required to create a parenting plan. This plan outlines how parents will share the daily tasks of raising the child, the time-sharing schedule, and how they will handle health care, school-related matters, and other activities.

Modifying Custody Orders

Custody orders are not set in stone. If there is a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances, a parent can request the court to modify the custody order. This process requires demonstrating that the change is in the child’s best interest.

Relocation with a Child

Relocation is a significant issue in custody cases. If a parent wishes to move more than 50 miles away for more than 60 days, they must obtain the other parent’s consent or a court order. The court will consider the impact on the child and the feasibility of preserving the child’s relationship with both parents.

The Child’s Preference

In Florida, a child’s preference may be considered in custody decisions, especially if the child is of sufficient age and maturity. However, this is just among many that the court will consider.

Unmarried Parents and Custody

The mother is presumed to have full custody rights for unmarried parents until paternity is established. Once paternity is established, fathers can seek custody rights and responsibilities similar to those of divorced parents.

Protect Your Rights By Knowing the Law

Child custody laws in Florida are designed to protect the child’s best interests while respecting both parents’ rights. Navigating these laws can be complex, and it’s crucial to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable family law attorney to understand your rights and obligations.

An attorney can also help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. 

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BSV Staff

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