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How does child custody work in Florida?

| Feb 20, 2021 | Child Custody |

If you share children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you may have some concern about what may happen to them after your divorce. While child custody can be a confusing and stress-inducing topic, understanding how the process works may put your mind at ease. 

Florida law does not use the term “custody.” Instead, it contemplates a time-sharing schedule based upon the best interests of the children. It also requires parents to develop a parenting plan to formalize how parenting works in their post-divorce families. 

The best interests of the children

When making custody and support decisions, Judges in the Sunshine State must consider the best interests of the children. To do so, judges weigh 19 factors, which fit into three broad categories: 

  • The fitness of each parent 
  • The backgrounds of each parent 
  • The needs of the children 

Judges may also consider any other relevant information that may affect the children’s best interests. They may not, however, consider either parent’s gender in making custody or support decisions. 

A time-sharing schedule

Rather than assigning custody to either parent, Judges in Florida develop a time-sharing schedule. This schedule may be either a majority one, where one parent has more parenting time, or an equal one. 

Time-sharing schedules may also be either temporary or permanent, although parents may use a change in circumstances to request a modification of the time-sharing schedule. 

The parenting plan

The parenting plan is a formal agreement that outlines the time-sharing schedule and describes parental responsibilities. Essentially, this legally binding agreement becomes the judge’s custody order. 

You probably do not have to leave child custody to chance. Ultimately, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can negotiate a time-sharing schedule and parenting plan that are in your children’s best interests, a judge is likely to honor it.