As a father in Florida, what are my chances of getting custody?

It is not abnormal for fathers across the country to assume that they will be mistreated in a custody hearing. Years of courts granting primary custody to mothers has led some to believe that courts show an unfair bias against fathers in custody cases. However, modern studies have demonstrated the importance of a father in the development of the child, and we have seen a slow shift toward more fair and equal parenting time in divorce cases when custody is an issue.

What this means for most fathers is that they have as strong of a chance of getting custody as mothers do. There are almost no instances in which a mother will be favored over a father in custody hearings, but just because gender doesn't affect custody chances does not mean that there are no factors that affect your custody chances. Regardless of your gender, courts will do what they believe is in the best interests of the child, using various factors to determine custody.

Florida law is very specific about the factors that play into child custody. Many of these factors have to do with maintaining the child's established lifestyle, including standard of living and social experiences. This means that parents who maintain residence in the same area, allowing children to stay with their group of friends and remain enrolled in the same school, will likely be favored in child custody.

Of course matching these various custody factors is only part of the battle. Proving that you are a good match and that your custody is in the child's best interests is also important, and the best way to achieve this is through experienced legal representation. If you live in Florida, and you are going through a custody dispute, consider meeting with an attorney to help you establish a case for your custodial rights.

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Amy L. Beauchaine, Attorney at Law
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