How Does Child Custody Work in Florida? An Experienced Divorce Attorney Explains

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If you’re searching for a “divorce attorney near me” and you have minor children, you probably wonder how your upcoming divorce will influence your children’s well-being. As a committed parent, you want to give your children stability and routine. At the same time, you may feel apprehensive about custody arrangements and possible loss of time with your children.

Here are some points you should keep in mind regarding child custody in Florida from the legal team at Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm of Pembroke Pines, Weston, and Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.

Child Custody in Florida

In many divorce cases, child custody is one of the most contentious issues. Under Florida law, except in cases where a history of spousal abuse is present, divorcing parties and parties in paternity litigation are required to attend mediation to attempt to resolve their case without the need for trial. The leading principle is that children should have a consistent relationship with both parents whenever possible.

Child custody involves two main aspects:

  1. Timesharing: determines how much time each parent spends with the child.
  2. Parental Responsibility: includes all significant decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, religious practices, and social environment.

If the parents cannot agree on either of these issues, the family court may need to settle their disputes. Factors like the child’s age, the child’s wishes (especially in older children), and the parental capabilities of each parent may influence the court’s decision.


Timesharing arrangements determine how the child’s time is divided between parents during the pendency of the divorce case and after divorce. The timesharing schedule will also influence the amount of child support the court awards. Generally, the parent who spends the most time with the child is entitled to financial support from the other parent.

It is always best if the parents can work out a timesharing schedule that works for both sides. If the case ends up in court, the judge will usually try to divide the child’s time equally between the two parents unless one of the parents has displayed some form of neglect or abuse in the past.

Watch below as Florida Child Custody Attorney Sergio Cabanas explains how the courts determine timesharing between spouses.


If one of the parents needs to relocate (i.e., move further than fifty miles from the location you resided at the time of the last order directed to custody using a “straight line” or “as the crow flies” measurement), it may disrupt the existing timesharing arrangements. The most straightforward method to settle timesharing difficulties would be working out a new schedule between the co-parents. You would need to create a new written parenting plan and file it with the family court if you are in agreement with the other parent, or file a petition for relocation if there is no agreement. The moving party must show that the move is in the best interests of the minor children. For example, one would need to show that the move creates better economic conditions, living conditions, or educational opportunities for the minor children.

Parental Responsibility

The Court has three statutory choices when dealing with parental responsibility:

  1. Sole Parental Responsibility: In this situation, one parent has been found to lack in the ability to make decisions that are in the best interests of the minor child. This is very rare. It could be because of violence, neglect, or a history of substance abuse that impairs decision-making ability. There are constitutional implications to taking a parent’s responsibilities to parent from them. The Court must tread carefully when this is requested.
  2. Shared Parental Responsibility: Both parents’ opinions have equal weight regarding significant decisions that involve the child’s education, upbringing, medical care, religious faith, social involvement, or recreational pursuits. Any disputes that cannot be resolved have to be resolved by reopening the case and filing a motion to request that the Court act as a tiebreaker.
  3. Ultimate Decision-Making Authority: One of the parents has the final say in certain decisions regarding the child, such as education or medical care after full consultation between the parties so as to allow the other party “input” into the issue.

In almost all cases, Florida courts prefer to order shared parental responsibility, regardless of timesharing arrangements.

How Can a Divorce Lawyer Help With Child Custody Arrangements?

In many cases, divorcing parents may reach balanced custody arrangements if they work together while prioritizing their children’s best interests. However, custody negotiations may become stuck if the parents can’t reach an agreement on vital points or if one side acts in a selfish, unreasonable manner.

A divorce lawyer can help protect your rights and your children’s welfare if:

  • You and your co-parent have drastic differences in your ideas of timesharing arrangements.
  • You have any history of past convictions, addiction, or mental illness, which your spouse may use against you in a custody evaluation.
  • You believe that your co-parent is attempting to alienate your children from you.
  • You or your co-parent plan to move to a different county or state.
  • You disagree with the results of your child custody evaluation.
  • You need to change your current custody order.

We strongly recommend working with an experienced custody attorney in all cases, but especially if you know that your co-parent has legal representation. If your co-parent hires a lawyer while you do not, you may find yourself in a highly vulnerable position. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you avoid a situation that jeopardizes your children’s well-being or your relationship with them.

Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm: “Divorce Lawyer Near Me” in Pembroke Pines, Weston, and Sunny Isles Beach, FL

Are you looking for a “divorce lawyer near me?” Are you feeling anxious about custody and the way co-parenting after divorce may affect your children? At Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm, our divorce and mediation attorneys in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties are here to help you address your concerns and achieve a reasonable custody agreement. We will work with you to protect your child’s best interests. When you consider hiring a divorce lawyer, choose a results-driven, committed law firm that treats you as an individual and custom-builds a legal strategy to suit your needs. Our bilingual law firm is passionate about helping people protect their children and assets during divorce and other family law matters. We settle where we can and fight when we must.

Be free, be happy! Call us at (954) 447-2580 or complete our online form today to schedule your strategy session with a Florida divorce attorney. We have offices in Pembroke Pines, Weston, and Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.

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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm
18503 Pines Blvd, Suite 301
Pembroke Pines, FL 33029
(954) 447-2580

Sergio Cabanas, Esq. | Family Law Attorney | Cabanas Law Firm

Sergio Cabanas, Esq. founded the Cabanas Law Firm in 2006 and provides Divorce and Family legal services, as well as Estate Planning, to ensure his clients have planned for their newly single life and are protected after their divorce. He began his career in law in 1992 as a prosecuting attorney at the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, then continued his litigation track as an insurance defense attorney defending medical professionals against medical malpractice claims and expanded into disability and life insurance claims. Sergio is a Certified Mediator registered in the Supreme Court of Florida and a frequent speaker in the community about the importance of Estate Planning to keep families out of probate court and to prepare essential instructions in the event of disability or incapacity.