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Understanding the Florida Child Custody Process



In Florida, child custody cases are heard by the courts to help determine whats in the best interest of the child.

In child custody battles where the parents live in different states, Florida has implemented a version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act into its Florida child custody laws. This laws primary purpose is to ensure that child custody proceedings are held in the childs home state. If a child is taken out of Florida during custody proceedings, a parent may be in violation of Florida laws.

Child Custody Pointers for Florida Residents

In Florida, child custody is awarded after the courts look at a number of factors. These Florida child custody guidelines include:

  • The character and sense of responsibility each parent has
  • If a parent can provide a stable home life and meet the childs needs
  • The desires of the child, if the child is an adequate age and can inform the courts of what he or she wants
  • The amount of love and affection the child has with each parent
  • The length of time a child has lived in a stable home and the need for stability
  • The willingness of each parent to continue an open and loving relationship between the other parent and the child
  • How well the child will adjust to his or her environment, which includes the home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of both parents and the child
  • The relationship of the child with all family members
  • The material needs of the child
  • Any evidence of domestic violence

In addition, if the parents are divorcing, Florida law requires that both parents take a parenting course before the divorce is finalized.

Awarding Custody

After considering all the facts, the courts will award custody to a parent-regardless of their sex. In child custody cases, the Florida courts most often award sole or joint custody. Called shared parental responsibility, joint custody requires both parents to make and approve of all decisions related to a child.

This doesnt necessarily mean a child will spend equal amounts of time with both parents. In joint custody situations, one parent is named a primary joint custodian. A child would live with the primary joint custodian, while the other parent would get visitation rights. Whoever becomes the primary joint custodian can decide where the child will live and what school the child will attend. He or she can also choose things such as the childs doctor.

There are instances when the courts will order that a child spend equal amounts of time with both parents in Florida, and child custody is split between both parents. Generally this form of child custody is not favored by the courts.

In Florida, child custody orders are signed by the judge and filed with the court clerk. Once finalized, the parents must adhere to the decision. If a parent is denied his or her visitation rights, they may take the issue back to court. A judge may then change the visitation order, require that the missed visits be made up, and could order mediation or counseling to resolve the issue.

Generally a parent can visit a child at the mutually agreed upon time by both parents. If the parents cannot create a suitable visitation schedule, generally a child will see their parent every other weekend, four to six weeks during the summer, and every other holiday.