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Where Does the State of Florida Fall in Terms of Encouraging and Fostering Joint Custody?


Most experts agree that shared parenting is better when it comes to child custody (or “time sharing”) decisions, whereby a child spends (roughly) an equal amount of time with each parent, and both parents equally share responsibilities when it comes to legal (decision-making) and physical (where the child is located) custody. According to studies, this provides a number of benefits to a child; specifically, children who spend at least 35 percent of their time with a parent are not only more likely to have a positive relationship that parent, but also more likely to do better in their own lives; psychologically, academically, and otherwise. In addition, studies have also definitively demonstrated that children who come from single parent, (fatherless or motherless), households are significantly more prone to teen suicide, dropping out of school, and running away from home.

That being said, there are absolutely circumstances where joint timesharing, (custody), does not make sense; for example, where there has been a history of domestic violence or other illegal activities in one household, or in circumstances where a child has very specific needs or simply cannot go back-and-forth between households and/or adjust to different schedules due to personal issues.

Florida Scores a C+

In addition, according to the new report, a number of states don’t exactly make it easy for children to spend an equal amount of time with both parents after divorce, and that arguably includes Florida, which scored a C+ in this regard. While state statutes reflect a strong statutory presumption of shared parental responsibility (unless the court finds that it is detrimental to the child), and also require courts to consider the demonstrated capacity for each parent to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent, the state’s presumption of shared responsibility does not create a preference or presumption when it comes to physical custody and the laws do not explicitly provide for shared parenting during temporary orders.

What About Parenting Plans?

When it comes to parenting plans and a time sharing schedule, Florida courts are required to make their primary consideration what is in the best interest of the child, not automatically award joint custody. The factors that are often weighed include the:

  • Capacity and disposition of each parent to encourage a close parent-child relationship, honor the schedule, and be reasonable about changes;
  • Division of parental responsibilities after divorce;
  • Desirability of the child maintaining any continuity and the home, school, and community environment;
  • Geographic viability of the parenting plan;
  • Moral fitness and mental and physical health of the parents; and
  • Reasonable preference of the child (if it is determined that the child is capable of making this call); amongst others.

Contact Our Florida Family Law Attorneys to Find Out More

Our family law practice not only provides comprehensive legal representation to individuals and families when it comes to important issues such as divorce and child custody, but we provide those services with dedication and compassion. Contact our Orlando family attorneys at Greater Orlando Family Law today to schedule a consultation and find out more.


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