How does the court determine child custody in Florida?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2023 | Child Custody & Visitation

In most states, the child’s primary residence is that of the parent with physical custody, while the other parent has visitation rights. The parent with legal custody has the lawful authority to make major decisions in the child’s life. Florida abandoned the traditional terms “physical” and “legal” custody because the state values shared parental obligation.

Florida encourages both parents to be active in their child’s life. Instead of granting physical and/or legal custody, the parents must create a parenting plan that outlines parental responsibility and a time-sharing schedule.

Shared parental rights and responsibilities

Shared parental responsibility implies that both parents have control over the major decisions in the child’s life, including education, religion, child care and health care. The parenting plan is a written agreement explaining to the court how the parents hope to share in their joint parental obligations. It will address issues on the following:

  • The daily responsibilities of each parent concerning raising their child
  • A feasible time-sharing schedule that will show the time and days the child will be with each parent
  • Which parent has control over what significant aspect in the child’s life, such as who makes decisions about the child’s education and who manages health care
  • The way the child will communicate with each parent

You must ensure your parenting plan is sustainable and comprehensive to get the court’s approval. Both parents must agree to the terms of the plan.

Florida’s public policy on child custody

The public policy of Florida maintains that each minor child has regular and constant contact with both parents even after the divorce. It could change if the court finds that one parent is unfit to oversee the child’s welfare. The main goal of any child custody agreement is to adhere to the child’s best interests. If the parenting plan reflects the overall well-being of the child and both parents actively participate in childrearing, then the court will ratify the agreement.