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.
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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.