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How does Florida determine child custody?

| Feb 16, 2021 | Family Law

If you face a divorce in Florida, you and your spouse must arrange to share custody of minor children. You can create a child custody agreement independently, with the help of a mediator or in court. 

Review the factors that judges use to determine whether a child custody agreement serves the child’s best interests and order custody when parents cannot agree. 

Parenting time

Sometimes called physical custody, parenting time describes the amount of time each of you spends with your child. In a time-sharing arrangement, you would have approximately equal parenting time. Sometimes, one parent has majority time-sharing while the other has visitation rights. 

Florida preserves the rights of parents to maintain a relationship with children after divorce. However, the judge may limit visitation if you or your spouse has a history of child abuse, abandonment, neglect or domestic violence. 

Best interest factors

When creating and approving custody arrangements, Florida judges must serve the child’s best interests. Factors in the best interest determination include: 

  • Your child’s age and stage of development 
  • Special health and medical needs 
  • The ability of each of you to create a stable, safe home and consistent routine for your child 
  • The preference of your child depending on age and maturity 
  • Your child’s current adjustment to his or her home, community and school 
  • The distance you plan to live from the other parent after the divorce 
  • The physical and mental health of each parent 
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs and support a relationship with the other parent 

If you submit a parenting plan to the court for approval, it should include comprehensive details about how you plan to share time and make decisions. 

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