How is child custody determined in Florida?

Because of the understandable concerns child custody creates during the divorce process, divorcing couples may have concerns related to child custody and how it is determined in the event of a divorce or in other circumstances. In general, child custody decisions in Florida are based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Parents are always encouraged to reach shared agreements related to divorce-related issues such as child custody but if they are unable to do so, the family law process can help. The family law court will also consider what is in the best interests of the child if asked to make child custody determinations when the parents are unable to agree. In Florida, the family law court is able to consider any number of relevant factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child with a primary focus on health and safety.

In addition, the court will consider which parent is more likely to care for the daily physical, emotional, developmental, education and special needs of the child; which parent is more likely to maintain a stable, consistent, loving and nurturing relationship with the child; and which parent is more likely to encourage and allow more frequent contact between the child and the other parent. In addition, the court may also consider factors such as the child's preference, depending on their age, and the child's relationship with family and siblings; the need for a stable environment and continuity; and the child's education and ties to the community.

Child custody concerns are important for parents in Florida approaching divorce to understand. Knowledge of the process can help parents better utilize family law resources to reach child custody decisions and determinations that are best for their children and families.

Source:, "Florida Child Custody Laws," Accessed May 31, 2017

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