Every state enforces specific child custody laws and regulations. Florida courts award child custody after determining which scenario is in the best interest of the child, but how do they make that decision, and what types of custody do they award? The following is a quick guide:
Legal and physical custody
Florida defines child custody as the care, maintenance and control of a minor. When a court awards legal custody to a parent, that parent is then allowed to make decisions regarding the educational, medical, religious and disciplinary care of the child. The court can also award physical custody to a parent to determine where the child will live.
Types of custody arrangements
The state allows two types of custody arrangements: sole custody, in which only one parent is awarded legal and physical child custody, and joint custody, called shared parental responsibility in Florida. In the latter case, both parents retain legal and physical child custody.
In joint custody situations, both parents are required to approve all decisions related to their child’s care. However, only one parent is actually named the primary joint custodian to designate a primary residence, physician and school for the child, while the other parent is granted visitation rights.
When determining child custody, a judge typically takes the following factors into account:
- The children’s ages
- The parents’ wishes and ability to communicate in child-related matters
- The mental and physical health of each parent and child
- The quality of the relationship and interactions between the parents and the children
- The needs of the children and — depending on their ages — their preferences
- The stability of the home environment offered by the parents and their employment responsibilities
- The proximity between the homes of the parents, the level of attachment the children have to their current residence and the level of adjustment required for the children to move
- The ability of the parents to provide quality education, medical care, and physical and emotional care
- The potential for the children’s safety and any history of domestic violence or abuse
If you are seeking legal assistance or more information related to a child custody issue, contact a skilled family lawyer with Combs Greene in Jacksonville.
Attorney Shane Herbert also contributed to this blog post.