February 18, 2021

Family Law: An Overview of Child Custody Law in Florida

Dealing with divorce and separation is more than just delegating assets after the court proceedings; it’s also an issue of handling who gets to have custody of the children. This ruling can vary from state to state, which can complicate how you should approach child custody laws.

Custody laws in Florida recognize that the children involved in divorce and separation cases will still benefit from spending time with both parents. This puts either parent without a clear advantage at the beginning of the court proceedings. Because of this caveat, you have to present enough information to the judge to ensure that your child is in better hands with you than your spouse.

Understanding ground rules of child custody laws

Since family law in Florida strongly emphasizes both parental relationships, a judge imposes a set amount of “time-sharing” where both parents will have visitation and custody time slots allotted to meet their child. In Florida, parents generally have similar custody benefits, unlike other “joint custody rulings” where there can be huge disparities between what one parent’s right over the other. However, parents can lose their time-sharing and visitation rights if there’s valid evidence of domestic violence, neglect, or other forms of child abuse.

Besides custody rights, both parents also have the right to contribute to medical, religious, educational, and legal decisions on the child’s behalf. Although both parents start with equal parental responsibility, a judge can make one parent with the sole decision-making power if the setup affects the child’s well-being.

Although both parents generally share the same rights, one parent will be designated as the primary or custodial parent, while the other is the secondary or noncustodial parent. In simple terms, the custodial parent generally has more influence and decision-making capabilities on the child’s well-being.

Determining child custody in Florida

Florida judges expect parents to put their child’s needs first above their own benefit, which will reflect on what the judge will allow a parent to uphold as a right. Although it can be a vague standard or motivation, there are specific factors that judges will look for in a parent’s evaluation. Listed below are five factors they’ll consider in identifying who the primary parent should be.

  1. A parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs consistently
  2. A parent’s physical and mental state
  3. A parent’s moral fitness
  4. A parent’s willingness to maintain relations between the child and the other parent
  5. A parent’s geographic accessibility to honor the time-sharing schedule

Besides comparing each parent, the judge also needs to factor in the child in question. They also need to see the child’s adjustment to new living dynamics, together if the child has a preference for a particular parent. These will be vital, especially if they’re of sufficient age to understand their family’s current predicament.


Unlike most separation cases in other states, Florida law leans towards the cooperation between each parent to develop a positive relationship for the child’s development. Collaborating with the opposite party is necessary, which is a considerable part of gauging your moral fitness to protect the child from the stress of divorce or separation. It’s your responsibility as an individual to work things out with your previous spouse to ensure that you both have the right capacity to nurture your child’s growth.

Although it can be challenging to make amends with your spouse, it’s necessary to overcome your difference for the sake of your child’s future. If you’re looking for top Jacksonville attorneys, Dorsey Law JAX’s pool of reliable law experts can help. Contact our family law experts by calling us at (904) 394-2865.


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