Shared custody in Florida is often 50/50 custody for parents

One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is the realization that you won't get to be with your children 24/7 like you were during your marriage. Even in the best case scenario, which is likely fully shared custody, you'll be missing out on half their evenings, half the holidays and every other weekend. You probably also worry about how custody could impact any child support the courts may order. 

Sometimes, one or both spouses request full custody in a divorce. In general, the courts are unlikely to award full custody to one parent unless the other doesn't want custody or there are serious issues, like abuse or addiction. Barring that, it's possible that you and your ex will end up sharing custody and legal decision-making power in a 50/50 custody situation. 

The courts want what's best for the children

When determining parental responsibility and allocating parenting time, the courts must always consider the best interests of the children involved. In general, the best interest of the children includes maintaining an ongoing and positive relationship with each parent during and after the divorce. For many years, that meant one parent received primary custody while the other was relegated to visitation. 

These days, the courts favor fully shared parenting responsibilities. That may mean that you alternate weeks, trade off during different days of the week, or have something more unique and tailored to the needs of your children and the specifics of your work situations. 

Decision-making power is also often split between parents. One parent may get to make medical decisions, while the other has to make education decisions. In some situations, both parents share decision-making power, which can result in arguments and complications down the road. You and your spouse will need to learn to work together to make decisions that focus on the best interests of your children as you co-parent them together. 

Other important factors the courts consider

When making a final custody decision, the family courts in Florida will look at a number of factors. Has one parent always had a stronger and closer relationship with the children? Are both parents emotionally and financially capable of caring for and supporting the children? Will work obligations complicate one parent's ability to perform critical parenting duties, like getting the kids to and from school? 

The courts will also look at how well the parents work together, what factors led to the divorce and whether each parent is working in the best interests of the children. If your ex starts denying you visitation, for example, that could result in alienation. The courts could see that as evidence that your ex isn't putting the kids’ needs first. There are many factors, and each divorce is unique. However, barring any serious complications, you should start preparing yourself for shared parenting duties and co-parenting with your ex. 

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