Do Mothers Get Preferential Treatment in Florida Child Custody Determinations?

If you are in the midst of a divorce, child custody arrangements may be on the top of your list of concerns. Who will the kids live with? How much time will I get with them? And a host of other questions are likely to be rolling around on repeat in your mind. If you are a mother or a father, you may have heard rumblings that kids often get preferential treatment when it comes to child custody. This is one of those pervasive myths in family law that, while it may have been true in some jurisdictions at some point in time in the past, is not the case under current Florida law.

Do Mothers Get Preferential Treatment in Florida Child Custody Determinations?

In Florida, there is legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody is a parent’s or guardian’s right to make decisions regarding how a child is raised. This relates to decisions such as how the child is educated, what religions the child is raised in, and the type of healthcare the child receives. Physical custody, on the other hand, relates to where the child lives and at which parental residence they spend their time. A parent with sole physical custody does not necessarily get sole legal custody. Each parent could have exclusive or shared rights in both types of custody.

While there may be many considerations accounted for when a court is tasked with making child custody determinations in Florida, the status of the parent as either mother or father is not one to play a role in such decisions. Florida law explicitly states that the court is to determine child custody matters in accordance with the best interests of the child and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. One of the goals stated in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is that the child have frequent contact with both parents and every attempt should be made for parents to share in child care and rearing responsibilities.

To be clear, the laws in Florida pertaining to child custody are gender neutral. There is no stated preferences for mothers in custody determinations. Mothers and fathers are given equal consideration in custody determinations and the best interest of the child remains the guiding standard in such decisions. Courts even lean toward arrangements that allow the parents to share in parental responsibilities and avoid sole custody awards unless the best interests of the child factors dictate otherwise. Courts focus on evaluating factors that would impact the health and well-being of the child when making custody determinations.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

While there are many important decisions made during divorce proceedings, child custody determinations go right to the heart of a family. We understand that you may have many deep concerns regarding child custody determinations and we are here to help you through them. We will counsel you on what you can expect during the process and we will stand by your side, fighting to protect your family at every turn. For trusted Florida family law legal counsel, reach out to the team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.