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Parents, do you understand Florida child custody laws?

Of all the matters that need to be addressed during divorce, custody is often the most important issue for parents. Laws regarding child custody vary from state to state, so agreements that are displayed on TV and in movies might not necessarily be relevant to Florida parents. Understanding the different options for custody can help parents approach the process with a more open mind.

Since parents are typically presumed to be most familiar with their children’s best interests, most have the opportunity to create an agreeable custody arrangement on their own. Many parents now consider the possibility of joint — also called shared — custody. For some children, having equal physical access to both parents is especially beneficial for emotional health, although this is certainly not true for everyone.

However, divorce is often an emotionally charged process, which can make it difficult for parents to come to an agreement on their own. In such instances, a custody hearing must be held, which a judge will preside over. It is then up to the judge to determine what is truly in a child’s best interests since no juries sit in on custody hearings. Judges consider many factors when constructing an agreement, including the likelihood of both parents maintaining a loving and stable relationship with the child in question. Children’s preferences can also be a factor in deciding how custody is determined.

Florida family law provides multiple approaches and options for child custody. As no two families or divorces are alike, the various options for reaching an agreement can be useful for those facing unique and extenuating circumstances. Ultimately, whether parents reach an agreement on their own or by attending a custody hearing, the final goal of any custody plan is to respect the best interests of the child.

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