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How is Child Custody Determined in Florida?


Once upon a time, child custody was granted to women in the majority of divorce cases. This was done without giving thought to what was in the best interests of the child or what type of parent either mother or father was. Today, however, determining child custody is not so cut and dry, and almost no court in America (we say almost, because there are still a few out there that hold mother-biases), will grant custody to just one parent unless circumstances are extreme. Florida courts are most concerned with that is in the best interests of the child, and they will consider several factors before coming to a decision, including the home, family, and work circumstances of each parent.

Determining child custody in Florida is one of the most difficult and emotionally charged aspects of divorce. Though in some cases parents can come to an agreement on a custody schedule, such cooperation is rare. In most cases, Florida family court judges must use their discretion to come up with a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child. Unfortunately, there is no “formula” for deciding child custody, and most judges are forced to rely on their impressions of each parent.

With that in mind, there is one thing parents can do to ensure a positive outcome to their custody battle, and that is to hire a Fort Lauderdale child custody attorney. If you are concerned about the outcome of your divorce and how it may affect your relationship with your child, reach out to the lawyers at Edward J. Jennings, P.A. for sound advice and aggressive legal representation today.

The “Best Interests” Factor 

Florida courts are most concerned with what is in the bests interests of the child. Divorce in and of itself can take a huge toll on a child, and the courts try their best to make sure that the negative impact is minimized as much as possible. In order to do this, the judge considers many factors before granting custody. Some factors the judge will consider include the following:

  • The physical, mental, and moral health of each parent;
  • The ability of each child to meet the child’s developmental needs;
  • The child’s school district;
  • The child’s home history;
  • The permanence of each parents’ proposed home;
  • The permanence of the child’s situation;
  • Each parents’ ability to provide the child with necessities;
  • The love, affection, and existing relationship between the child and each parent;
  • Whether or not there is a history of domestic violence;
  • Whether or not either parent will cooperate and encourage contact by the other parent;
  • Whether either parent will be willing to accommodate changes made by the other parent;
  • Whether either parent will honor the time-sharing schedule;
  • The extent of involvement each parent is anticipated to have in the child’s life; and
  • How much of a parent’s parenting time will be delegated to someone else (i.e. a caregiver).

In a child custody case, each parent will be required to give as much information as possible about their current and future situations. They can also provide information about the other parent if they believe that doing so might be relevant. Though the courts rely heavily on the information provided by each parent, it would do neither parent any good to lie. Not only do the courts fact-check the information given to them, but also, if it is found out that either parent lied, it can hurt their case significantly.

Florida Courts Have Wide Discretion Over Child Custody Matters 

As mentioned above, there is no “formula” that Florida courts adhere to when granting child custody, and a judge can use his or her own discretion when divvying up parenting time. That said, a judge must make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child, and they must be willing and ready to prove how their final parenting plan is what is in the best interests of the child.

Florida’s child custody laws can be complex, with little if not no room for no black-and-white decisions. If you want to ensure a positive outcome to your child custody case, do not try to resolve it on your own, and work with a Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyer who understands how Florida judges think and what evidence is necessary to prove that you are a worthy parent. If you are interested in scheduling a free consultation, call Edward J. Jennings, P.A. at 954-764-4330 today.



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