For Florida parents considering a future divorce, the biggest concern is often their right to child custody. No one wants to make a decision that could negatively impact their relationship with their children. However, staying in an unhappy marriage out of fear of changing things isn't necessarily the best decision either.
Many people still believe that one parent or the other wins custody in a divorce, which may scare them out of filing. However, this situation is less common than in years past. Assigning custody to one parent typically only happens in special circumstances. In most other situations, the courts will create a shared custody arrangement that incorporates both parents into the lives of the children.
Florida courts must focus on the best interest of the children involved
While parents may be worried about protecting their rights as adults, the courts must focus on protecting the children. Florida family law ensures that the best interest of the children will be the guiding principle for all situations regarding child custody.
Years of psychological and sociological research have made it clear that shared custody arrangements are ideal for minimizing the strain of divorce on children. The courts will work to protect the children by creating a custody arrangement that integrates both parents.
Unless there is some kind of evidence that could show the courts that shared custody could pose a threat to the children, courts are unlikely to assign sole custody to either parent in a modern Florida divorce. Instead, they will seek to promote healthy relationships and shared responsibilities for both parents.
Certain circumstances can impact custody outcomes
While shared custody is the standard, the courts can and do deviate from shared custody, in many cases. There is a broad range of reasons why the courts may assign sole custody to one parent or relegate one parent to visitation only.
Severe instability is one reason. If a parent struggles with alcohol addiction or dependence on illegal drugs, the courts may not find that suitable for the children. Similarly, if one parent does not have a place to live or has trouble maintaining a job, the courts may allocate the more stable parent custody while the other parent sorts out their life.
It is even possible for health concerns, ranging from mental health issues to physical disabilities, to impact the custody proceedings. If a health condition would preclude a parent from providing adequate care to the children, that could sway how the courts handle custody.
Unless your family has faced an extreme circumstance like the ones mentioned above or abuse, the courts are unlikely to award sole custody to one parent. Divorcing parents should prepare themselves for the likelihood of shared custody as the outcome in their divorce proceedings.