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What influences a judge’s decision about custody in Florida?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2022 | Divorce

When parents living in Florida end their relationship, regardless of their marital status, they will often have to share parental responsibilities. During a divorce or in the aftermath of a breakup, parents need to create a parenting plan that establishes their responsibilities and rights.

Many times, the emotions at the end of a relationship make it difficult for people to set reasonable and appropriate rules for shared parenting. In these scenarios, they may turn to the Florida family courts to help them settle the issue. If a judge has to make custody decisions, what will influence the terms that they set?

Children are at the center of all custody decisions

When a Florida family law judge must decide how to split parenting time and legal decision-making authority for children, they should think about what is best for the children. Establishing the best interests of the children requires an understanding of a child’s developmental needs and also their unique circumstances.

Preserving not only their primary attachment to their main caregiver but also their relationship with the other parent is very important for their long-term development and mental health. In most cases, a judge will look at a family’s history and the relationship that each parent has had with the children to find a reasonable way for the parents to engage in time-sharing, which is the legal term Florida uses to describe sharing custody.

In time-sharing arrangements, each parent will sometimes be responsible for meeting a child’s needs. A judge will also split legal custody, which refers to decision-making power over matters like religious observances and medical treatments.

Could your ex deny you custody?

It’s a common concern for parents to worry that their ex will freeze them out of their relationship with the children. The good news is that the courts don’t just give one parent sole custody in most cases.

While such outcomes are possible, they typically only occur when a judge believes it is what is necessary for the best interest of the children, such as when one parent has a significant addiction issue or a history of abusive behavior. Allegations of such behavior usually won’t be enough to limit one parent’s access either. The courts will expect some kind of documentation if one parent seeks sole custody because of instability or abuse.