How Do Florida Courts Determine Child Custody?

As a divorcing parent, perhaps one of your biggest concerns is losing custody of your child. There was a time, not that long ago, when Florida courts favored the rights of mothers and fathers did not have much chance of gaining custody of their children. However, these days, Florida courts have adopted a far more gender-neutral approach to child custody. Instead of presuming one parent is more fit, Florida courts seek to give equal custody to each parent if it finds that such a custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child.

To arrive at a decision as to what is in the best interest of a child, Florida judges look to a number of factors. First and foremost is the health and safety of the child. Florida courts will never place a child in the custody of a parent if it finds that this arrangement would be detrimental to the child. If, for instance, a court finds evidence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from one parent, he or she will likely have no right to custody, or will be granted only supervised visitation.

Courts also look to the emotional and developmental needs of the child. Parents are expected to put their children’s needs before their own and each parent should demonstrate both an ability and an interest in meeting their child’s developmental needs. Florida judges will consider evidence of parental involvement in educational and extracurricular activities, as well as each parent’s routines for their children.

It is also in the best interest of a child that his or her parents adopt a civil and mutually supportive co-parenting arrangement. This means that parents respect a time-sharing schedule with their children and enforce uniform rules and discipline. While divorcing parents may no longer wish to have a romantic relationship, they are expected to continue to have a parenting relationship free of volatility and stress for their children.

Florida courts strive to serve the best interests of children when it comes to determining custody. If you are going through a divorce and need assistance with your child custody arrangement, speak with an experienced Florida family law attorney at the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.

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