Child custody and child support are two of the most contentious issues among people filing for divorce in Florida.
When a Florida couple is seeking a divorce and has children, the court will make child custody and child support decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child.
While determining the best interests of the child can be difficult, the court will consider the following factors:
A Florida domestic relations court will analyze these factors to make a decision about parental responsibility, also known as child custody, or how the parents will be responsible for the care, custody, control and maintenance of a minor (i.e. someone who is under the age of 18).
Legal custody, also known as “parental responsibility,” refers to which parent will make decisions regarding educational, religious, medical, and disciplinary issues.
Florida recognizes two types of custody arrangements: shared parenting (joint custody), where both parents have legal custody; or sole parental responsibility (sole custody), where one parent has custody.
Florida courts assume that both parents want to be involved in the life and upbringing of the child. Therefore, absent evidence to the contrary, a Florida domestic relations court will assume that both parents are equally interested in the child’s life and will award shared parental responsibility.
Under a shared parenting plan, both parents must approve all decisions related to the child. One parent is the primary residential parent, while the other parent has visitation rights. This allows the child to have a primary residence, school, and designated primary care physician.
Ideally parents are able to agree on most major decisions regarding their children. However, when parents cannot agree, the judge will decide.
In a sole custody situation, one parent has legal and physical custody of the child, and the other parent will usually have visitation rights.
If you are seeking a divorce in Florida and have children under the age of 18, you will be required to complete an approved 4-hour Parent Education and Family Stabilization course that is designed to educate, train, and assist Florida parents in ways that minimize the emotional impact of divorce on you and your children. Each parent must take the course individually before the court will grant dissolution of marriage.
The Jacksonville law firm of Elrod & Elrod has been helping people in the Florida metropolitan area since 1966. The firm proudly serves people throughout northeast Florida in Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Hamilton, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St.Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, and Union counties.