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Phone: 904-733-9080


Florida Child Custody:

Child custody can be one of parents’ most painful concerns during divorce. Even when divorces seem amicable, there can be a lot of pain and even animosity as arrangements such as parental responsibility and time-sharing are handled. Decisions made during this time could significantly impact the child’s way of life and general well-being, so this process must be navigated with great care. 

Need help understanding the complexities of child custody in Florida? A little extra insight can make a world of difference. Below, we discuss Florida’s child custody system in detail — including the current types of custody, how these are determined, and which strategies are most likely to produce a desirable outcome. 


How Child Custody Works in Florida

When most people consider the concept of child custody, they immediately focus on where the child in question lives and how much time will be spent with either parent. In reality, however, there are two main types of custody in Florida: parental responsibility (previously known as legal custody) and time-sharing (once referred to as physical custody).

Courts have largely moved away from using previously dominant terms such as “legal” and “physical” custody. However, these arrangements share a great deal in common with the current concepts of parental responsibility and time-sharing.

Parental responsibility determines who can make important decisions about the child’s medical care and education. In most cases, the clear preference is for shared parental responsibility, in which both parents are heavily involved in making major choices that affect their children. 

Time-sharing can be a lot more complicated. It is possible for a parent to share official responsibility while also maintaining a time-sharing plan in which the child primarily resides with (and spends time with) just one parent. The Florida Statutes presume that equal (or nearly equal) time-sharing is in the child’s best interests.


Top Factors Considered in Child Custody Cases

In Florida, as in many places, child custody cases can be incredibly nuanced. Technically, the child’s best interests are emphasized, as is the general goal of allowing children (when possible) to maintain meaningful contact with both parents. That being said, how this plays out will differ dramatically from one case to the next.

With most child custody cases, Florida courts can consider many factors — but not all of these potential considerations will be relevant to every family. It can be nerve-wracking to navigate this process when there is no clear formula for how child custody is granted, but a basic understanding of common considerations can help.

Most parents should be prepared for at least some of these concerns to come into play:

Most of these considerations involve a great deal of nuance, but the solution when there is evidence of abuse or neglect is abundantly clear: in these situations, the other parent should find it easy to obtain custody.


Strategies for Improving Child Custody Outcomes in Florida

With so many factors at play, having any meaningful influence over Florida custody decisions can be difficult. Many facts of the case will already have been established, so sudden changes in behavior or demeanor will not always have a discernible impact. That being said, it’s still often worthwhile to take extra steps to get involved in children’s lives and provide a positive routine that promotes positive long-term physical and mental development. Even if this doesn’t make a difference in court outcomes, this is best for the child.

Just as important? Attorney selection. The right family attorney will understand which aspects of the parent’s history or relationship to play up — and which challenges call for a sensitive and strategic approach. Additionally, skilled child custody attorneys can provide in-depth insight into how clients should conduct themselves in court or other official settings.

For example, it is often in the custody-seeking parent’s best interest to demonstrate an ability to cooperate with the other parent, even when this is incredibly difficult to put into practice. Attorneys can advise clients on how to accomplish this and also on how to convey their clients’ cooperation to Florida courts. 

In more contentious cases, Florida family attorneys may need to help clients obtain temporary court orders, which can provide basic arrangements until a final custody decision has been reached.  

Child custody attorneys should be aware of (and willing to use) creative solutions to arrive at a mutually beneficial resolution that both parents can get behind — and, of course, one that abides by the child’s best interests. They can tailor their approach to help clients make acceptable compromises, all while keeping the focus on the big picture: promoting a safe, healthy, and happy childhood.

There is no easy solution to Florida child custody cases, and in most situations, both parents will need to compromise to some degree. However, with strong legal guidance and a commitment to the child’s best interests, it is possible to find an arrangement that benefits all those involved. There’s no understating the importance of custody arrangements or the value of working with an attorney who truly cares about the families they serve.

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