FAQs About Child Custody in Florida

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

Facing a court case involving your children can be emotional and stressful. The following are only some of the questions that are frequently asked of child custody attorneys regarding this type of case in Florida.

Can I get sole custody of my children?

It is important to note that instead of the terms “joint custody” or “sole custody,” Florida law refers to “equal time-sharing” or “majority time-sharing.” While the law favors time-sharing with both parents, it is possible in some situations to have your children with you the majority of the time. However, courts will generally allow at least some visitation with the other parent except in exceptional circumstances. So, unless the other parent does not want to see your children, you will have to share some time with your children.

We have a time-sharing order as part of our separation agreement — can we just keep that arrangement following the divorce?

It is possible to include the existing arrangement in the divorce judgment if both parents agree, if no circumstances have substantially changed that warrant a new arrangement, and if the court finds that the existing arrangement is still in the child’s best interests.

Can my children just tell the court they want to live with me?

Under Florida law, children can have a say in who they want to live with if their preference is reasonable and if the court determines they have the experience, intelligence, and understanding of the situation to make the decision. However, courts can still order visitation with the other parent.

What happens if my ex refuses to agree to a time-sharing arrangement?

It is always preferable to agree on a time-sharing and parenting plan and have the court simply review and approve it. However, if one or both parents cannot agree, the court will examine the circumstances, listen to evidence of each argument regarding requested arrangements, and determine what schedule is in the child’s best interests under the circumstances. If you do have a trial regarding time-sharing or parenting plans, your attorney can help you gather and present evidence supporting your desired schedule.

My ex has a mental illness, substance abuse problem, or history of domestic abuse — will they get to spend time with the children?

While courts do favor time-sharing with both parents, they will consider whether time with a certain parent places the child in danger or is not in the best interests of the child. In such situations, the court may decide to order supervised visitation with the parent or perhaps no time-sharing with that parent at all. If the circumstances later change (e.g. the parent successfully goes through treatment), they may be able to obtain a modification of the time-sharing order based on a substantial change circumstances.

The above are only brief answers to often complex questions regarding child custody. For more in-depth information or if you are facing a custody case, do not delay in calling a Boca Raton family law attorney for help. Contact the law office of Alan R. Burton at 954-229-1660 today.

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