Child custody cases can find their way to court as standalone legal issues or pursuant to the separation or divorce of parents. When they do, judges in Florida must assess a host of factors to decide how to serve the best interests of the kids whose lives will be affected by their decisions. Those decisions can grant different parental responsibilities to the children's parents based on the needs of the children involved.
Parents may end up sharing custody of their kids and, if they do this is often referred to as "joint custody." Joint custody does not mean equal custody in all cases, and parents who share custody of their kids may work out different distributions of time during which the kids live with the different parents. The alternative to joint child custody is "sole" child custody, and in this form of custody only one parent has custody of a former couple's kids.
Parents with custodial rights may have legal custody and physical custody of their kids, or just one form of custody. Legal custody is somewhat intangible, as it relates to the ability of a parent to make choices about their child's upbringing. Physical custody concerns where a child will live and if a parent can make day-to-day decisions about how to raise them.
How a court decides the custodial plan for a family will depend on many factors related to the children's unique situation in a child custody case. Parents in Florida will want to get specific information about their rights and options about their own cases.