Child Custody

What is Child Custody

Child custody and legal guardianship typically refer to a parent’s right to make important decisions about a child’s upbringing. These decisions may affect the child’s healthcare, education, religion, and welfare.

Child custody disputes are often some of the most fiercely contested aspects of a contentious divorce.

Types of Child Custody

In most states, there are four types of child custody including legal custody, physical custody, sole custody and joint custody.

Legal custody typically deals with a parent’s right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing. Legal custody is most commonly shared among both parents through joint legal custody. However, in certain circumstances one parent may have sole legal custody meaning only he or she may make decisions about the child’s upbringing.

Physical custody typically deals with where a child lives and spends time. Physical custody may be divided between both parents through shared physical custody. Conversely, a child may exclusively live with one parent who has sole physical custody.

Child Custody vs. Florida Time Sharing

It is important to note, Florida family law courts have moved away from use of the term “child custody” in favor of “time sharing.” Florida family law courts use time sharing so there does not have to be a primary and secondary custodial parent.

With time sharing, a parenting plan is usually created with specific visitation rights for each parent. These plans are always determined based upon the best interest of the children.

Factors Affecting Child Custody

There may be a number of factors which can affect how family courts choose to designate legal custody and physical custody. Some factors which may negatively affect a parent’s opportunity for child custody can include:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment or desertion
  • Drug, alcohol and/or other substance abuse
  • Felony conviction or incarceration
  • Mental instability
  • Physical abuse, mental abuse and/or cruelty