There is currently no presumption in favor of equal physical custody, or time sharing, between divorced parents in Florida. Under state law, all parenting and time-sharing issues are based on what the court believes to be in the best interests of the child. While a judge will assess every situation individually, Florida courts favor frequent and continuing contact with both parents and encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of parenting after a divorce.
In determining the best interest of the child in making a custody decision, a judge must consider 20 factors under Florida law that put the welfare and interests of the child first. Those factors include:
- The ability of each parent to have a close relationship with the child and communicate with the other parent on issues involving the child
- The ability of each parent to participate in the child’s school and extracurricular activities
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the divorce is final
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to “determine, consider, and act upon” the needs of the child rather than their own needs or desires
- The length of time the child has lived in a healthy, stable environment and the desirability of maintaining that environment
- The viability of the parenting plan given the geographic distance between parents’ residences
- The moral fitness, mental health and physical health of the parents
- The preference of the child if the court deems the child to be of “sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference”
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child
- Evidence of domestic or sexual violence, child abuse, abandonment or neglect, whether or not a prior or pending legal action exists
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule
Equal time sharing is not a given in Florida. A judge will look at the facts, consider how the above factors apply, and then decide what time-sharing situation is in the best interest of the child.
If you have minor children and you’re in the midst of a divorce in Florida, an experienced Florida divorce attorney can explain your options for custody and represent your rights while protecting your children’s welfare. The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. offers the experienced representation clients deserve. Call us at 305-670-8656 or contact us online to arrange a consultation at our Miami office.