How to Get Full Custody in Florida

how to get full custody in florida

Child custody matters are among the most sensitive and challenging aspects for many parents in Florida, with the ultimate goal being to obtain full custody rights of their child. Full custody, also known as sole parental responsibility, grants one parent exclusive custody rights and responsibilities regarding their child’s upbringing. 

Securing sole or full custody in Florida can be a significant step in any divorce case, but the process can be complicated and require intimate knowledge of Florida family law. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key steps and considerations involved in obtaining sole parental responsibility or full custody in Florida to help guide parents down the right path.

If you want to gain sole custody of your child or children, the Tampa, FL, child custody attorneys at Quinn & Lynch are here to help. Call us at 813-223-7739 to schedule a free initial case evaluation with our experienced legal team member.

Types of Child Custody in Florida: Parental Responsibility and Time Sharing

how to get full custody in florida

In Florida divorce cases, child custody is categorized into two main types: “parental responsibility” and “time sharing.” These terms are similar to the more widely used terms  “legal custody” and “physical custody,” where legal custody refers to parental responsibility and physical custody refers to time-sharing arrangements.

Below, we’ll break down these two terms and how they affect custody arrangements. 

Parental Responsibility

In Florida, legal child custody is categorized as “parental responsibility.” Parental responsibility is the right and responsibility of a parent to make decisions on behalf of their minor child. Parental responsibility is also divided into “shared parental responsibility” and “sole parental responsibility.”

Shared parental responsibility, known as joint custody in some other states, implies that both parents are expected to make important decisions regarding the child’s life. These decisions often include matters related to the child’s school, medical care providers, and religious upbringing. Florida courts prefer shared parental responsibilities, believing it to be in the best interest to have both parents actively involved in children’s lives.

Then, there’s sole parental responsibility, known as full custody or sole custody in other states. Sole parental responsibility means that one parent has the authority to make all significant decisions concerning the child’s life without needing to keep the other parent informed. This is also typically the primary residential parent. Sole custody or parental responsibility is typically considered when one parent is deemed unfit or incapable of participating in decision-making due to issues such as substance abuse or domestic violence.

Parental Time Sharing

Also referred to as a visitation schedule or parenting time pertains to the physical time the child spends with each parent. In Florida, the goal of most custody cases is to create a parenting plan that outlines the specific time-sharing schedule for each parent based on the child’s best interests.

The time-sharing arrangement can vary greatly depending on the unique circumstances of the custody case, but the goal is to ensure that most parents have substantial parenting time in their children’s lives.

Parents are encouraged to work together to create a mutually agreeable time-sharing arrangement with shared parental responsibility. However, co-parenting with an ex can be difficult, so if they cannot reach an agreement, the court may step in and establish a parental time-sharing schedule instead. Florida courts prioritize the child’s well-being, especially during developmental stages, and aim to create a stable environment and consistent routine for them, even in cases of shared parental responsibility.

How is Child Custody Decided in Florida?

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Child custody in Florida is determined by considering the best interests of the child as the guiding principle. In order to make a decision that is in the child’s “best interest,” the court must take into account various factors, such as the child’s emotional and physical health, safety, stability, and relationship with each parent. The court also assesses the child’s age and developmental stages the child is in, as well as preferences, such as staying near the child’s friends, while considering the parents’ ability to provide a loving and supportive environment.

Using this information, the court can help develop a parenting plan and custody determination that prioritizes the child’s best interest if the parents are unable to agree on a custody arrangement themselves. The court can develop a parental responsibility plan that will address important decisions for raising children, such as education, health care, overnight visits, and religious matters. 

The court can also determine the time-sharing schedule, which governs the physical time each parent spends with the child, considering factors like the child’s age, the child’s school schedule, and extracurricular activities.

Rebuttable Presumption

“Rebuttable presumption” is a legal principle where a fact is assumed true unless disproven. In child custody and family law, it often means that specific custody arrangements are deemed beneficial for the child unless evidence contradicts this assumption.

For example, in many jurisdictions, it’s presumed that shared parental responsibility is best for the children’s lives, allowing them to have a relationship with both parents. However, if the court believes that one parent, typically the non-custodial parent (but not always), is a danger to a child in Florida, they may change the custody arrangement.

Situations That May Warrant Sole Parental Responsibility or Sole Physical Custody

There are many different situations in which one parent may be granted sole parental responsibility and/or sole physical custody of their minor child. Sole parental responsibility is typically granted in situations where it’s in the child’s best interest to have one parent make all significant decisions regarding their upbringing.

Reasons a judge will change custody or give custody rights to one parent over the other parent could include these extraordinary circumstances:

  • domestic violence or sexual violence
  • child neglect or child abandonment
  • mental health issues
  • substance abuse problems

While it’s possible for a parent to be granted sole parental responsibility, it’s much harder for a parent to receive sole physical custody of the child in Florida. In a custody case where the court finds that the other parent should not have parental responsibility for the child, the court may order supervised visitation rights.

In extreme cases, one parent may be granted full physical and legal custody of the child. This typically happens in situations where the other parent is exposed to or perpetrates domestic violence or other forms of abuse or child neglect that could negatively affect the child’s life. 

Tampa domestic violence divorce lawyer can help you through the process of parental responsibilities under Florida law, working hard to ensure your child’s safety.

Child Abuse and Neglect

When there is credible evidence of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment by one parent, the court may award sole parental responsibility to the other parent to ensure the child’s best interests are being sought.

Sole parental responsibility can help shield the child from harm as a result of their abusive or neglectful parent’s decisions. In the same vein, sole physical custody can reduce the child’s contact with their abusive or neglectful parent, which can help protect the child’s mental and physical health.

How to Get Sole Custody in Florida

how to get full custody of a child as a mother

Securing sole custody or full custody in Florida can be complicated, and the process requires careful consideration and adherence to specific legal procedures. The objective of sole custody is to place the child under the care and decision-making authority of one parent when it’s determined to be in their best interests. To achieve this, the legal father and mother can explore various avenues, including negotiating a parenting plan with the other parent or getting involved with the dependency court. 

Negotiated Parenting Plan

The best way to receive sole or full custody of a child is to develop a parenting plan in which both parents agree that one of them should have sole decision-making responsibility and sole physical custody of the child. A collaborative divorce proceeding, where both parents agree on most of their divorce-related issues, will almost always be a cheaper, faster, and overall easier process than a contested divorce. Collaborating on a parenting plan can expedite the process and allow both parents to have a say in the child’s future, even when seeking sole custody. A Tampa collaborative divorce attorney from Quinn & Lynch P.A. can help with this.

If the two parents can’t quite develop a parenting plan together or still have some issues they need to hash out in regard to custody, Tampa family law mediation can help them work out their differences before they take each other to court. A Florida family law attorney can also help them work out their issues and develop a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the minor child. 

Dependency Court

In some extreme cases, child custody can be determined in dependency court. Florida’s dependency courts handle cases of child abuse, child neglect, and child abandonment, ensuring children are removed from harmful situations as soon as possible. These Florida courts can prevent the abusive or neglectful parent from having contact with the child for a certain period of time or can even terminate their custody rights or visitation rights entirely. 

To learn more, visit signing over parental rights in Florida.

Why You Need a Tampa Time-Sharing Attorney 

Navigating parental responsibility and a time-sharing schedule in Tampa, Florida, can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. Whether you’re dealing with divorce, separation, or post-divorce modifications, a qualified Tampa custody attorney can help protect your rights and ensure you and your child receive the best outcome possible.

A Tampa custody attorney will have an in-depth understanding of Florida law and custody procedures and can guide you through the process of securing physical and/or legal custody of your child. They can also help provide objective and impartial advice, which can be especially helpful in situations like child custody battles, where emotions tend to run high. 

Additionally, a skilled time-sharing attorney can help negotiate or mediate with the other parent to reach an amicable agreement whenever possible. This can reduce the emotional toll on all parties involved and save time and money by avoiding protracted court battles.

If you’re looking for a trusted child custody attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure you receive the best outcome for you and your child, call the time-sharing attorneys at Quinn & Lynch P.A. today. When you hire our law firm, you don’t just receive expert legal assistance, but you also receive personalized and compassionate legal advice every step of the way.  

Call Tampa Child Custody Attorneys at Quinn & Lynch P.A. Today

At Quinn & Lynch, P.A., we understand how complex and delicate child custody and time-sharing cases can be. That’s why our experienced child custody attorneys are committed to protecting your rights and the best interests of your child. Whether you are seeking sole custody, negotiating a parenting plan, or facing post-divorce modifications, our legal experts are here to guide you through the process and the Florida court system with compassion, knowledge, and unwavering support.

Call us at 813-223-7739 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with us. 

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.