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How Does the Judge Determine Who Gets Custody?

Divorce is one event that no one hopes they will have to experience during their lifetimes. When it does happen, separating parents often have the custody of their children at the top of mind. So what are the things you need to be concerned about when it comes to child custody arrangements in the state of Florida?


Child custody is considered to be who is responsible for the care and maintenance of a child.

In the state of Florida, the course will be tasked with determining both the legal custody and physical custody of any minor children to the divorcing parties. Legal custody refers to the decisions surrounding the minor child’s health education, and overall welfare. Physical custody, on the other hand, is the determination of where the child will reside physically.

Florida recognizes two types of custody arrangements: sole custody and joint custody. Joint custody is also referred to as share parental responsibility.

In many cases, judges will attempt to award shared custody to the parents, unless it is determined that doing so would be detrimental to the welfare of the children. In this case, the judge may award one parent sole custody.

Shared parental responsibility can result in many different parenting arrangements. For example, while parents may share legal custody of the child, it may be determined that they will live primarily with one parent, with visitation rights given to the other parent.

In other circumstances, it might be determined that the child live with each parent equally.

A number of factors related to the welfare of the child will be used to determine custody arrangements. These include:

  • The child’s health and safety
  • An understanding of the emotional and developmental needs of the child
  • Moral fitness of the parents
  • The ability of the parents to communicate

Child’s Health and Safety

A parent’s custody and/or visitation rights can be reduced or lost in instances where there is evidence of violence or sexual abuse. Child custody can also be affected in instances where there may be evidence of substance abuse in the home.

An Understanding of the Emotional and Developmental Needs of the Child

The courts seek to provide the most stable environment that works in the best interest of the children.

They will review the extent to which the parents have involved in the kids’ daily lives and how they will continue their children’s routine for things like homework, mealtimes, and bedtime. Things like knowledge of the children’s friends, teachers, and favorite things will also be considered.

Moral Fitness

Florida considers the moral fitness of each parent to be a factor when determining the child’s best interest. Situations such as numerous casual relationships, substance abuse, illegal behavior, or evidence of other types of abuse will be considered.

The Ability of the Parents to Communicate

Florida encourages parents to promote a positive relationship between the child and other parent. Custody and visitation time can be affected if one parents makes false accusations of violence or abuse against the other parent.

The courts will anticipate that each parent will abide by the time-sharing schedule without the need for court involvement.


The state of Florida requires that the parents who will have custody or visitation with the minor children to have a written plan in place that outlines the terms of the agreement.

The parenting plan must be approved by the court and must at a minimum include things such as:

  • The person who will be responsible for healthcare related matters
  • The person who will be responsible for educational matters
  • The child’s visitation and custody schedule
  • How the parents will share daily parental tasks
  • The parent who will provide the address for school registration and other activities in which the child participates.

Having the courts determine who receives custody of your child can be stressful. Knowing the factors that the courts will use to make their determination can make the process a little easier.

If you have any questions about the child custody process or would like more information about our services, please feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment.