Florida Child Custody


After the changes made in 2008 to Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes, Florida child custody laws do not provide for “custody” as such.  Instead, there is  parental responsibility and time-sharing in Florida divorces with children.

Parental responsibility refers to the authority to make decisions for the benefit of the children; it can be shared or given to only a parent (sole parental responsibility).

Time-sharing refers to how much time each parent will share with their children.

In addition, changes to this section include the requirement for a plan that covers  these two areas. If the parties are unable to create their own plan ( “parenting plan”) for any reason, then the court has the power and authority to make one after a trial to promote the best interest of the children.

Litigating custody issues can become quite expensive since you may have to retain other professionals, besides lawyers, to assist in proving to the court whatever it is you are alleging as the reason for receiving greater rights than the other parent.

Parental Rights in a Divorce in Florida and Paternity Cases

Both parties have equal rights regarding their children, and neither is granted rights superior to the other unless you can prove (not just say) to the court that the parent has certain deficiencies which may affect the best interest of children.

In litigation over issues that affect children, Section 61.13 (link below) provides a list of factors that the court should consider in determining parental responsibility and time-sharing. If there are no allegations that can later be proven in court regarding factors that may be harmful to the best interest of children, parties are free to enter into an agreement regarding these matters.

It is worth emphasizing that false allegations of domestic violence made in court can be harmful to the party making such claim in order to distance the other parent from the children, especially if the allegations turn out to be unproven for any reason.

Courts also require parents going through the legal system to take a 4-hour course to help them stabilize the family while going through the process.  The requirement is authorized by Section 61.21, F.S.  The stated purpose of the parents’ divorce class is to address the recognized short-term and long-term effects of parental conflict in divorce.

For more details on  parental responsibility and time-sharing in a divorce or paternity, visit the child custody laws in Florida, Section 61.13,  at the Florida Legislature’s web site.

For more details on the required parenting class, visit  Section 61.21, at the Florida Legislature’s web site; or click here.  If you want to start the course now, you can do it online and get your certificate of completion via email.

Time-sharing and child support in Florida go together. Read more about why equal time-sharing does not always equal to $0 child support.

 Miami-Dade County Divorces with Children:  Effective August 2014, cases in Miami that are litigated automatically provides guidelines and directions to the parties.  But remember, this is an Order, and it automatically applies when a case is filed, whether there are children or not, unless there are other orders in the case, written agreement or a domestic violence injunction applicable to certain provisions. As to children, the order provides Shared Parenting Guidelines and addresses relocation issues when there are no orders or written agreements between the parties.  Read more at this post on  MiamiDivorcePaternityBlog.com

To deviate from the order, a motion and hearing must be held in the case.  If you are filing for divorce in Dade and have questions as to the application of this order to your individual case, you should ask your family lawyer about it.   Source: Administrative Order 14-13, In Re: Adoption and Authorization to Utilize Status Qu0 Temporary Domestic Relations Order, With or Without Minor Children, in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.

For information about child support, visit Florida Child Support Laws.



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