Understanding Florida’s Custody Laws

Whether you are going through a divorce or breaking up with a significant other with whom you have had a child, one of the most important steps is going to be determining who will be responsible for the child and when. Providing for the physical, emotional, and financial needs of children should be handled by both parents, even if they are unable to stay together. To accomplish this, Florida courts will step in to assign custody of these children. There are four main topics to be aware of when it comes to Florida’s custody laws.

Legal Custody vs Physical Custody

When it comes to providing for the needs of the children, the courts split this into two areas. Legal custody is who will have the legal right to make decisions on behalf of the child. This includes things like where the child will go to school, what medical decisions are made, and much more. The courts can assign one party sole custody or split this custody between the parties (more on this below).

The physical custody of the child will cover where the child will stay at any given time. The courts will determine whose home the child will live in and if joint custody is assigned, a schedule for when the child is with each parent. As with legal custody, physical custody can be assigned exclusively to one parent or split in some way between the two parents.

Sole Custody vs Joint Custody

When making rulings on legal and physical custody, the courts will have the option to either assign these rights to one party or split them up between the parents. In most cases, the courts will attempt to assign joint custody as the default for both legal and physical custody. Sole custody is usually only assigned when there is a serious reason such as drug or alcohol abuse, or one of the parents has been shown to be abusive or neglectful to the children.

In general, the courts will start with the assumption that both joint legal and joint physical custody is going to be best for the children. For joint legal custody, each parent will have an equal say in decisions that impact their kids. If they can’t come to an agreement on an important decision, they would have to get the courts involved to decide. When it comes to joint physical custody, that doesn’t always mean that each parent will have the child 50% of the time, though that is becoming more popular. It simply means that each parent will have a significant amount of time with the child and providing for their care.

Fight for Your Rights to Your Children

If you are going to court for a custody battle for your children, it is important to present the strongest case possible right from the beginning. While custody orders can be modified in the future, it is much easier to get the custody arrangement you want now than it will be to change it in the future. Contact us to set up a consultation and go over your options to get a fair custody order.