Florida Divorce: Does Mom Always Win in Custody Cases?

Both mothers and fathers have important legal rights regarding their children. Yet, it is a common misconception that moms always win custody cases. However, Florida courts do not automatically favor the mother over the father. There is no preference placed on granting custody to the mother when the court makes a custody determination under Florida law. In fact, if a custody case went to trial, there is a long list of factors that the court must consider before making a decision, none of which weigh in mom’s favor simply because of her gender.

Over the past decade, significant changes were made to Florida laws concerning child custody. In fact, Florida doesn’t even use the concept of “custody” anymore; instead, Florida discusses “timesharing” with the child. The changes reflect the legislative desire to promote the involvement of both parents in a child’s upbringing by ensuring that the primary focus in child custody determinations remains on what is in the “best interest of the child”. Florida Statute 61.13(2)(c)(1) provides, “[i]t is the public policy of the state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the party is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.”  The Statute goes on to state, “There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.”

So, what does this all mean?  It means a lot of discretion is given to the assigned judge when the making custody (timesharing) decisions.  Therefore, it is very important for any party in a custody dispute to hire an experienced family law attorney who practices regularly before the local judges who will ultimately make the decision regarding time sharing. Attorney Adam Bragg has experience dealing with child custody matters in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Contact the Bragg Law Firm today at (941) 893-1555 to discuss your child custody, time-sharing or parental responsibility questions.