Child Custody 101

The laws regarding child custody vary from state to state, but in Florida, child custody is determined by the courts through their analysis of what is in the best interests of the child in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Child custody laws in Florida help to determine which parent gets legal and physical custody. The parent with legal custody can make important decisions for the child such as educational, religious, or medical decisions. The parent with physical custody can decide where the child will live and makes day-to-day living decisions regarding the child.

There are three types of custody arrangements in Florida - sole custody, joint custody and split custody. Sole custody occurs when one parent gets the legal and physical custody of the child. In this situation, the other parent may be granted time-sharing rights depending on the individual circumstances. One arrangement unique to Florida is rotating physical custody, where each parent gets sole custody for six months of the year.

Joint custody can be a bit more complicated. Both parents will equally share in the legal and physical custody of the child. Usually the court will approve of an alternating time-sharing schedule of equal time. Alternatively, the court may implement a bird's nest agreement, usually in cases of younger children. In these cases, the children will reside in the former residence and the parents will alternate living in the home. Both parents will be required to secure living arrangements elsewhere when they are not living at the former residence.

Finally, both parents may acquire split custody. This occurs when there are multiple children. Each parent has legal and physical custody of one or more children and may have generous time-sharing rights for the children they do not have custody of.

If you have further questions regarding child custody in Florida, consultation with an experienced divorce attorney will be beneficial to help protect your rights.

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Rachel Rall, Attorney at Law, P.A.
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