Two boys in the child custody of a parent.

What Are Florida’s Child Custody Options?

In child custody determinations, Florida courts will always work toward establishing an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. It is the guiding factor in which parents will be granted custody rights and what type of custody will be established. If you are about to enter into proceedings to establish child custody, it is a good idea to become familiar with the different kinds of child custody options that are available in Florida.

Understand Your Options of Child Custody in Florida

Child custody refers to both legal custody and physical custody of a child. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make decisions for the child. These decisions relate to things such as educational, medical, and religious decisions. A court may grant a parent sole legal custody in which he or she is the only parent permitted to make decisions on behalf of the child. In the alternative, joint legal custody may be granted in which both parents are authorized to participate in making decisions on behalf of the child.

Physical custody pertains to where a child will live as well as parental visitation rights. A Florida court may award physical custody to one parent. This is referred to as sole custody. The court may decide to award both parents physical custody of the child. This is referred to as joint custody. In cases where sole custody is awarded, one parent is granted physical custody of the child and acts as the primary residence for the child. In most cases, the other parent will be granted visitation rights as determined by the court. 

When joint custody is granted, both parents share in the physical custody of the child. In Florida, joint custody is referred to as “shared parental responsibility.” One parent is still named as the primary joint custodian so that the child retains a primary residence. With joint custody, a joint custody calendar is established in order to set forth how custody will be split. In other words, it will be determined when the child spends time with each parent. Most states do not require a 50/50 time split in joint custody arrangements. The schedule only needs to establish that the child spends a significant amount of time with each parent.

In order to arrive at a custody decision, a court will consider any relevant factor in addition to being guided by the best interest of the child standard. Factors to consider in custody decisions include:

  • Which parent is more prepared and able to provide daily physical, emotional, and developmental support to the child?
  • Which parent is more prepared to provide a stable and loving environment for the child?
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent?
  • What is the preference of the child? (if the child is of sufficient age and maturity)

Florida Child Custody Attorneys

Child custody arrangements will have a significant impact on your life and that of your children. It is critical that you be informed of your legal rights when child custody decisions are being made. At the Orlando Family Team, we provide our clients with dedicated legal counsel to help ensure their legal rights are protected in these incredibly important decisions. Contact us today.