It is the public policy under the laws of Florida to ensure each minor has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or divorced, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing. The father and mother are given the same rights in custody regardless of their child’s age or sex. In most cases, parental responsibility and custody for a minor child will be shared by both parents so that each retains full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. This requires both parents to confer so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly.
You and your spouse may agree, or the court may order, that one parent have the ultimate custody and responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare, such as education, religion, or medical and dental needs. If the parents have a substantial conflict over any of these areas, the court will decide on responsibility for them. The court can order varying types of shared parenting and custody arrangements depending on the evidence presented. The court may designate one parent’s home as the primary residence and afford the other parent frequent and continuing contact, or, the court may order rotating custody in which the time spent with each parent is equal.
In rare cases, the court can order sole parental responsibility and custody of a child to one parent. To do so, the court must determine that shared parental custody would be detrimental to the child. In considering custody issues between parents and their children, the best interest of the child is the primary consideration by the courts.
Florida law requires both parties to attend a parenting course prior to entering a final divorce. Consult a St. Johns County family law attorney at Canan Law to learn more about the courses offered and get more information about child custody.