Child custody is one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of family law. It can be a challenging and complex process, and it's essential to have a clear understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding child custody in Florida. In this blog post, we'll provide you with a comprehensive guide to understanding child custody laws in Florida, including the different types of custody, how custody is determined, and what factors are considered when making custody decisions.
Types of Child Custody in Florida
There are two types of child custody in Florida: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child lives, while legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child's upbringing, education, and medical care.
Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
In Florida, joint custody is the preferred arrangement, where both parents share physical and legal custody. However, if joint custody is not in the best interest of the child, the court may award sole custody to one parent. Sole custody means that one parent has the exclusive right to make major decisions about the child's life.
Factors Considered in Child Custody Cases
When making custody decisions, Florida courts consider several factors, including:
- The child's preference, if they are old enough to express a preference
- Each parent's ability to provide for the child's physical, emotional, and developmental needs
- The child's relationship with each parent and other family members
- Each parent's mental and physical health
- Each parent's willingness to encourage and facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent
Modifying Child Custody Orders
Child custody orders can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances that affects the child's best interests. For example, if one parent moves out of state, loses their job, or develops a substance abuse problem, the court may modify the custody arrangement.
Enforcing Child Custody Orders
If one parent violates a child custody order, the other parent can seek enforcement through the court. The violating parent may face serious penalties, such as fines or even jail time.
Understanding child custody laws is crucial for anyone going through a divorce or separation involving children. By knowing the types of custody, factors considered, and how to modify or enforce custody orders, parents can make informed decisions that are in the best interests of their children. If you need help navigating child custody laws in Florida, contact Harris, Hunt & Derr, P.A. Our experienced family law attorneys are here to help you every step of the way.