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How do Florida courts decide child custody cases?

If you're facing divorce and you're a parent, there's probably one big issue on your mind - how will the court decides who gets child custody?

A lot of people mistakenly believe that moms will always get custody, but this isn't true. There's no preferred gender in Florida law. Instead, the court looks at a variety of factors to create an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child at issue.

Florida law sets forth a number of factors for the court to consider, including the following:

  • Each parent's ability to foster a good relationship and adhere to a parenting schedule
  • Each parent's ability to prioritize the child's needs over their own
  • Each parent's ability to provide consistency around things like meals, homework, bedtime and discipline
  • The desire for having continuity in a child's living arrangement
  • The child's performance in school and community activities
  • The child's overall developmental needs
  • Whether either parent has a record of substance abuse or violence
  • The child's preference, if he or she is mature enough to express one

If the parents do not live close to each other, the court will also look at geographic realities (like transportation, for example) when deciding if a parenting plan is reasonable. It is important to note, however, that relocation will not necessarily preclude a parent from getting custody.

Because there are so many factors to consider, and so many unique circumstances at play, custody decisions are different for every family. Thinking carefully about these criteria will help you be prepared to enter your custody case in the strongest possible position.

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