Concerns about losing custody often dominate the discussion when those with children talk about divorce. Nobody wants to reduce how much time they spend with their children, and people fear the worst-case scenario where they would lose custody and access to their children entirely. The good news for parents worried about custody litigation is that the Florida family courts very rarely choose to grant one parent sole custody despite the protests of the other.
Typically, if both parents want time with the children and parental authority, the courts will divide custody between the parents. While the time-sharing arrangements may not lead to a 50/50 split of parenting time in every case, most parents can expect to spend a reasonable amount of time with their children after a divorce. Judges typically make custody places based on what they think will be best for the children.
Only in a handful of scenarios what a judge agree with one parent’s claim that keeping the other away from the children would be best for the kids. When might a judge agree to grant one parent sole custody despite the desires of the other?
1. A history of abuse
Both spousal abuse and child abuse can have a profound impact on custody hearings in Florida. A judge typically will not accept testimony from one individual as grounds to grant one parent sole custody. Corroborating evidence, like medical records and police reports, is necessary or abuse allegations to have any significant impact on the choices made by the judge.
2. Health issues, including substance abuse
There are many people who love their children and want to be excellent parents but have limitations that prevent them from needing their children’s needs. Physical and mental health disorders might make someone incapable of providing the kind of support and supervision young children require.
Issues with substance abuse, including alcoholism, could also render one parent incapable of providing the safety and stability their children need. As with allegations of abuse, there will typically need to be evidence supporting one parent’s claim that the other has health issues that will prevent them from safely parenting the children.
3. Personal instability
Has one parent been sleeping on couches since the separation? Have they struggled to keep a job? When an adult does not have a space of their own or safe transportation, they may not be in a position to accept parental responsibilities yet.
To secure custody, a parent typically needs space for the children and the means of providing for them financially. Parents who do not initially secure custody because of issues after their divorce may be able to go back to court and ask for a modification when their circumstances change.
Documenting your situation and learning more about Florida custody laws can help you prepare for custody negotiations or for an upcoming modification hearing.