Child Custody in Florida

Familiarize Yourself with Florida Child Custody Laws

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The courts use several factors to determine child custody in Florida. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Florida should first become familiar with this state's custody statutes.

Related: Help our readers by sharing your experience with child custody in Florida.

Time-Sharing in Florida

Florida refers to a shared joint child custody arrangement as time-sharing. Time-sharing is a type of visitation where one parent is awarded physical custody of a child while the other parent is awarded generous visitation.

Florida family courts prefer a shared custody arrangement that allows both parents to enjoy liberal time with a child.

Best Interests of the Child

A Florida family court will establish child custody or time-sharing based on the best interests of the child. In determining best interests of the child, a court will consider the following factors:

  • Each parent's willingness to encourage and support a relationship between the child and the other parent, to honor a time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes occur
  • Each parent's ability to respond to the child's needs as opposed his/her own needs
  • The mental, physical, and emotional health of the parents
  • The stability of the child's home environment
  • Any history of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect
  • The child's wishes, if the court deems the child to be of a sufficient age, intelligence, understanding and experience (generally age 12 or older)
  • Each parent's ability to be involved with the child's school and extracurricular activities

Relocation and Child Custody in Florida

A Florida court will agree to one parent relocating with a child if both parents sign a written agreement which:

  • Expresses consent to the relocation
  • Explains the time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent and any other persons entitled to access or time-sharing
  • Describes transportation arrangements related to access or time-sharing

The parent who wishes to relocate must serve a signed petition to the other parent, regarding the relocation, as soon as reasonably possible. The petition must include:

  • The address, telephone number, and description of the new residence
  • Date of the intended move or proposed relocation
  • A statement describing reasons for the move

Modification of Child Custody in Florida

A child custody order will not be modified in Florida unless a parent or a third party can show a substantial, material, or unanticipated change in circumstances. The modification must serve the child's best interests.

For further information about child custody in Florida, please speak with a qualified attorney in Florida or refer to the Florida Domestic Relations statute.