Florida Law: Child Cus­tody Basics

Child cus­tody refers to the care, con­trol, and main­te­nance of a minor. Child cus­tody laws in Florida help deter­mine which par­ent gets legal and phys­i­cal cus­tody. A par­ent with legal cus­tody of a child can make edu­ca­tional, reli­gious, med­ical, and dis­ci­pli­nary deci­sions. Through these laws, the courts will also decide who gets phys­i­cal cus­tody. The courts deter­mine who gets phys­i­cal cus­tody to estab­lish where a child will live.

There are two types of cus­tody arrange­ments in the state of Florida. Child cus­tody can be awarded to one par­ent (known as sole cus­tody) or to both par­ents (known as joint custody).

With sole cus­tody, one par­ent gets legal and phys­i­cal cus­tody of a child. In a joint cus­tody sit­u­a­tion, both par­ents share legal and phys­i­cal child cus­tody. In Florida, joint cus­tody is called shared parental respon­si­bil­ity, and both par­ents must approve all deci­sions related to the child. In this sit­u­a­tion, one par­ent is named the pri­mary joint cus­to­dian and the other par­ent is granted vis­i­ta­tion so the child has a pri­mary res­i­dence, school, and a des­ig­nated pri­mary physician.