Will I get 50/50 Custody of My Children?

Joint custody arrangements are the most common type of custody agreement. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents split time with their children after a divorce is finalized. During divorce proceedings, Parents develop a time-sharing schedule that details when children will visit each parent, accounting for special circumstances like holidays and school breaks. Here are the factors determining if you get 50/50 custody of your children after a divorce. 

Types of Custody 

Before determining whether you’ll get 50/50 custody of your children, here’s an overview of the typical types of custody in Florida: 

Legal

Legal custody is the only non-physical form of custody. A parent with legal custody of a child is responsible for making major decisions about the child’s welfare and upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious practices. In Florida, both parents are automatically granted legal custody of their children.

Sole

 In a sole custody arrangement, a child spends most of their time with one parent. Sole custody arrangements may be beneficial if parents live far away from each other. Sole custody may be granted if one parent is deemed unfit, such as abusing drugs or alcohol. Sole custody is rarely granted, as Florida courts favor arrangements where time is split evenly between the parents. 

Joint 

Joint custody is one of the most widely used types of custody agreements. In this arrangement, both parents share time with the child. The child may move between the parents’ homes or remain in the family home while the parents take turns living there.

How Custody is Determined: Defining Best Interest 

When determining custody arrangements, Florida courts make decisions based on the child’s best interest, not the divorcing parents. What’s considered to be within the child’s best interest is determined by several factors, including: 

  • Fostering healthy relationships with both parents 
  • Meeting a child’s basic needs 
  • Providing a stable and safe home environment 
  • A parent’s mental and physical health
  • Child’s preferences (based on age)

Do Courts Favor Mothers in Custody Battles?

In Florida, courts don’t give preference to either parent when determining child support. Traditionally, mothers were favored when it came to custody arrangements. However, Florida courts now prefer a shared custody model. In this model, both parents work together to create a parenting plan that establishes how they will raise their children as co-parents after divorce. The parenting plan should include a time-sharing schedule considering each parent’s ability to spend time with their children. Additionally, it must establish guidelines for general parenting topics such as medical care, schooling, and extracurricular activities. Once the parenting plan is complete, it must be submitted to the court for approval before the final divorce decree is granted. 

New Time-Sharing Law in Florida 

HB 1301 went into effect on July 1, 2023, and changes how child custody arrangements are created and approved in Florida. Until this law was passed, the court didn’t favor a particular time-sharing schedule. Parents created parenting plans based on individual preferences. Now, the courts offer a “rebuttable presumption that equal time-sharing is in the best interest of the child.” This means equal, 50/50 custody will be awarded in all custody cases unless it’s proven that it’s not in the child’s best interest to do so. This significantly increases the chances that 50/50 custody will be awarded in custody cases. 

Parenting Plans & Divorce with Kathy D. Sheive

Kathy D. Sheive is a skilled family law attorney serving the residents of Osceola and Polk counties. Throughout the divorce process, we’ll ensure that the best interests of your children are taken into account. You can schedule a consultation by contacting us at 407-315-2268. Or chat with us live anytime to get started.

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