How is Custody Determined in Florida


When parents divorce or split up, deciding how to care for their child is a top priority. So, how is custody determined in Florida? Many factors determine child custody, also known as parental responsibility, in Florida. 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.

Who Gets Custody of a Child?

When it comes to custody, there is physical and legal custody, as well as sole and joint. Physical is who the child lives with, and legal refers to who makes major decisions about the child. The courts generally consider joint custody in both aspects, although this does not mean the child necessarily lives with each parent 50% of the time.

Uncontested Custody In Florida

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 custody plan, there has to be a substantial change in the circumstances of the case.

Contested Custody in Florida

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 to develop a custody arrangement that suits both parties and the child’s best interests.

How is Child Custody Determined During a Divorce

The parents must consider who spends more time physically caring for the child, who provides a stable, nurturing, and loving relationship with the child, and which parent will foster a good relationship between the child and the other parent.

Agreeing on parental responsibility is a challenge for many divorcing couples. However, the court does not always have to be part of the decision-making process. Mediation is common for many parents to develop a fair and agreeable arrangement without much money or stress.

Whether the parents or a judge decides, the child’s best interest should always be the focus. Consider the following:

  • Emotional ties the child has with each parent, any siblings, and other family members or caretakers
  • The ability of each parent to provide clothing, food, a safe home, and medical care
  • Physical and mental health of each party

The state of Florida also takes the child’s wishes into consideration if the child is old enough.

If you’re going through a divorce and need custody recommendations, especially if you’re trying to determine how to get joint custody in Florida, contact an experienced Tampa child custody attorney at our law firm.

Contact Our Experienced, Dedicated Divorce & Family Law Lawyers Today

As a dedicated family law practice in the Tampa Bay area, we work one on one with our clients, resulting in representation that is characterized by genuine care and understanding. If you are dealing with divorce or other family law issues, please contact at 813-223-7739  to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced family and divorce attorneys.