Divorce & Family Law Attorneys

A Board Certified Family Lawyer serving Tampa, FL since 1996

How courts determine child custody in Florida

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | Family Law

One of the key parts of a divorce is determining custody of your children. Child custody is either uncontested or contested. Uncontested is when both parents agree on custody arrangements, and contested is when you and your ex-spouse cannot agree.

The courts take the time to review each parent’s circumstances and the child’s best interests in both cases.

Uncontested custody

Uncontested cases usually require the courts to approve a parenting plan that you and your ex-spouse come up with. Florida courts require a parenting plan in both uncontested and contested custody cases. This plan gives the courts an idea of the custody arraignment you and your ex-spouse prefer.

Once the court approves a parenting plan, it is a binding contract that you have to abide by. Although it is possible to modify the plan, there has to be a substantial change in the circumstances of the case.

Contested custody

When you cannot agree with your ex-spouse, the courts will consider several factors before deciding on custody. Some of these factors include:

  • Who has the best interests of the child in mind
  • The moral fitness of each parent
  • Each parent’s involvement with the child
  • The child’s preference, assuming the child is old enough
  • The school, home and community records of the child
  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child

The courts will sometimes appoint a guardian ad litem in a custody case. A guardian ad litem determines and represents the child’s best interests.

Florida law is very clear on custody and very strict about custody enforcement. You should try and develop a custody arrangement that suits both parties and the best interests of the child.