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Types of Child Custody in Florida: Exploring the Spectrum

Posted by LEISA WINTZ | Nov 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

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When it comes to family law matters in Florida, understanding the nuances of child custody is crucial. Parents navigating the intricacies of divorce or separation often find themselves facing questions about the types of custody arrangements available. In this article, we will delve into the various types of child custody in Florida, shedding light on what each entails and the factors that influence these determinations.

Types of Child Custody in Florida

Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

  • Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to a parent's authority to make significant decisions about the child's life, including matters related to education, healthcare, and religion. In Florida, the court can grant joint legal custody, where both parents share decision-making responsibilities, or sole legal custody, where only one parent holds this authority.
  • Physical Custody: Physical custody pertains to where the child resides. Joint physical custody involves the child spending significant time with both parents, promoting a shared parenting arrangement. On the other hand, sole physical custody means the child primarily resides with one parent, with the other usually having visitation rights.

Joint Physical Custody

Joint physical custody, also known as shared custody or shared parenting, is a common arrangement in Florida. It emphasizes the importance of both parents actively participating in the child's upbringing. The child spends substantial time with each parent, fostering a sense of stability and continuity.

Sole Custody vs. Full Custody

The terms “sole custody” and “full custody” are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings. Sole custody typically refers to one parent having both legal and physical custody, making major decisions and being the primary caregiver. Full custody, on the other hand, often means the same, but it's not usually the preferred term in court.

Determining Child Custody

Florida courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. Factors considered include each parent's ability to provide a stable environment, the child's relationship with each parent, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse. The court may also consider the child's preference, especially if they are mature enough to express a reasoned opinion.

Impact of Child Custody on Child Support

Child custody can indeed influence child support arrangements. In cases where one parent has primary physical custody, the noncustodial parent may be required to pay child support to contribute to the child's financial needs. The amount is influenced by factors like each parent's income, the number of overnights the child spends with each parent, and other relevant expenses.

In the diverse landscape of child custody arrangements in Florida, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. The court strives to create arrangements that prioritize the child's well-being and ensure both parents play meaningful roles in their lives. Whether it's joint physical custody, sole legal custody, or any combination thereof, the goal is to create an environment conducive to the child's growth and development.

Navigating child custody matters can be complex, and seeking the guidance of an experienced family law attorney is invaluable. If you find yourself grappling with child custody concerns, reach out to the expert team of Family Matters. Our dedicated team is committed to helping families find resolutions that safeguard the best interests of the child. Schedule a consultation today to explore the legal avenues available to you.

About the Author


Leisa Wintz originally began her career as a marriage and family therapist. Ms. Wintz went on to attend law school and started practicing family law in 2009. However, she quickly realized that many family law practices lacked the empathy and compassion she believed were necessary in order to achi...


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