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What factors do Florida courts consider when awarding custody?

Each couple is in a little different spot when it comes to the divorce table. For some couples, divorce is a contentious process, both when it comes to dividing assets and determining custody. Entering into the child custody determination process, it is tempting for couples, particularly those in a contentious divorce, to take the approach that it is about them and their interests as a parent. It is important to realize, however, that this is not the case.

In any custody case, the most important issue for a court is what is in the best interests of the child. Parents, of course, do have constitutional rights by virtue of being parents, but this doesn’t mean they automatically have a right to equal custody of their child. The goal of a family court is to determine what parenting arrangement is really best for the child. 

Courts consider a variety of factors when determining custody arrangements. Some of these factors relate to the needs of the child, some to the resources and abilities of the parents, others to the relationship between the parents and the child. Ultimately, the court may consider any factor deemed to be relevant to the determination of whether a specific parenting plan is in the best interests of a child.  

Courts in Florida are not burdened by any presumptions favoring either the mother or the father. Courts will order joint custody to parents only if doing so would not be detrimental to the child. Detriment to the child is presumed in cases where a parent has been convicted of certain types of offenses, including domestic violence. The presumption may be rebutted by the convicted parent, and it is important for a parent negatively affected by this presumption to work with an experienced attorney in his or her case.

In a future post, we’ll say a bit more about how an experienced attorney can provide zealous advocacy in child custody proceedings.

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