October 21, 2022

Who Gets the Custody in an Unmarried Family in Florida

In Florida, unmarried parents have the same custody rights as married parents. However, there are some key differences that unmarried parents should be aware of regarding custody laws in Florida.

First, unmarried parents will need to establish paternity before seeking any custody arrangement. It can be done through a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or DNA testing. Once paternity has been established, the next step is to create a parenting plan.

A parenting plan is a document that outlines how the child will be raised, who will make decisions on behalf of the child, and how parenting time will be divided between the parents. Parenting plans are not legally binding, but they can help establish a custody arrangement that works for both parents.

Once a parenting plan has been created, the next step is to file a petition with the court. The court will then review the parenting plan and decide on custody. If the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the court will decide based on the child’s best interests.

It is important to note that custody laws in Florida are constantly changing. As such, you must consult an experienced attorney to ensure you are up-to-date on the latest changes.

Determining the Custody

While unmarried parents have the same rights and responsibilities as married parents when it comes to child custody and visitation, if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will make the decision based on what is in the child’s best interests.

There are a few factors that the court will consider when deciding on child custody, including:

  • The ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving home
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and other family members
  • The child’s preference (if the child is old enough to express a preference)
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse
  • The ability of each parent to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The distance between the homes of the two parents
  • The work schedules of each parent
  • The age and developmental needs of the child and any special needs

The court will also consider other factors relevant to the child’s best interests, such as:

  • The child’s age
  • The child’s health
  • The child’s emotional needs
  • The parents’ drug and alcohol use
  • The parents’ criminal history
  • Any domestic violence or child abuse in the home

Suppose you are an unmarried parent in Florida seeking child custody or visitation. In that case, you must consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.


Unmarried parents in Florida have the same custody rights as married parents. They can have joint legal and physical custody, or one parent can have sole custody. To determine custody, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests. That includes factors such as the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent.

If you find yourself in this situation and need to determine child custody in Florida, Dorsey Law JAX can help. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will provide you with the best possible representation, ensuring your rights are protected at every step. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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