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How Florida Divorce Courts Determine Child Custody
How Florida Divorce Courts Determine Child Custody

Divorces are hard on both children and parents, especially when it comes to matters of child custody. That’s why the courts prefer that the parents come to an agreement that appeases all parties.

However, the judge isn’t forced to accept the terms of a deal made between the parents. Florida statute 61.13(2)(c) gives the courts the power to “determine all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child.” (emphasis added).

It’s also important to understand that there are different modes of custody. Legal custody means the parent has the right to make decisions regarding education, religion, discipline and health care. Physical custody determines where the child lives.

The physical custody issue can arise when one parent wants to relocate. According to, the court will look at a variety of factors when determining what decision would be in a child’s best interests in that situation, including:

  • The proximity of the proposed location to family members, including the other parent
  • The effect the move could have on the child emotionally and mentally
  • Whether the proposed location offers the right amenities if the child has special needs
  • What effect the move would have on the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • Any benefit the move may have for the parent and child financially
  • The reason for the relocation

While the court will likely not step into any agreement made between the parents, one exception is if there is a history of abuse. In fact, if there is “evidence that a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence,” there will be “a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child,” per the above-mentioned statute. This means the convicted parent would have to overcome that presumption to prove to the court that he or she retaining or being granted some form of custody was in the best interest of the child. That’s a high barrier to climb.

It isn’t impossible to overcome that initial burden, but it does require expertise. The Men’s Divorce Law Firm specializes in helping men with custody issues as well as other family law needs. Please call 321-DIVORCE to set up a consultation to see how our attorneys can provide you with the assistance you need.