Skip to Content
Mitchell & West, LLC Mitchell & West, LLC
Call Today For Personalized Legal Solutions 305-783-3301
Fighting for Custody of Your Child? Protecting Your Rights Through a Personalized Approach


How Is Child Custody Determined in Florida?

Florida utilizes the terms time-sharing and parental responsibility when referring to custody decisions. Courts can grant parents with a shared role or a sole role in raising the child, and courts often prefer plans that allow both parents to spend quality time with their children.

If parents are not able to agree on a time-sharing plan, a judge will intervene and decide for them using the child's best interests as the guiding principle.

In Florida, factors that affect time-sharing arrangements include:

  • Ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs
  • Each parent's physical and mental health
  • The stability of each home
  • The geographic viability of a plan
  • Whether a parent is inclined to encourage frequent contact with the other parent
  • Any history of domestic violence in a home

Issues involving custody and time-sharing can be challenging for parents, even in cases where couples have decided to part ways amicably. In highly-contested divorces, finding a sound solution can present even greater obstacles.

At Mitchell & West LLC, we can help parents create effective time-sharing schedules and parenting plans. Our Miami child custody lawyers will guide you through the process, from negotiation, mediation, to litigation. We provide hands-on, personalized representation while ensuring your needs are met and that your interests are preserved.

Dealing with a child custody dispute? Get Help from Our Miami Attorneys Today

Equal Custody Rights: Understanding Florida's Stance

Does Florida Favor Mothers in Custody Cases?

Florida is not a mother’s right state in the sense that it does not give custody to the mother by default. In the most ideal circumstances, Florida wants the parents to share custody as it often benefits the child to be in contact with both parents. Therefore, both the mother and father have an equal standing for custody of the children.

However, if the parents of the child are unmarried, then the mother will automatically be granted full custody. This could change once the father’s paternity is established, but initially the mother will have sole custody.

Criteria for Determining an Unfit Parent in Florida

According to Florida Statute 751.05, a parent could be unfit because of the following reasons:

  • The parent has abused the child
  • The parent has neglected the child
  • The parent has abandoned the child
  • The parent has a history of drug abuse
  • The parent has a history of mental illness

Additional reasons a parent could lose the ability to have custody of the child include an unsafe living environment, a dirty home, and parental alienation.

When Can Children Express Custody Preferences in Florida?

In Florida, there is not an exact age where the judge will listen to the child’s preferences regarding custody. However, the judge will use discretion to decide if the child is old enough to give weight to the child’s preferences. The judge will want to be sure that the child understands the choice being made, is intelligent enough to make the choice, and knows each parent well enough for the decision to be meaningful.

Resolving custody disputes quickly yet satisfactorily is always the focus of our legal team. Prolonging custody disputes can be traumatic to children of any age, so it is important for parents to cooperate as much as possible.

Our child custody lawyers in Miami strive to preserve relationships and maintain civility throughout a case. We are well-versed in many creative ways to settle custody disputes between even the most hostile of parents. Let our Miami child custody attorney talk about your case and your options.

Questions About Child Custody? Call Our Miami Team for a Consultation


  • Recognized by Super Lawyers®

    Less than 5% of Florida attorneys are included on the Super Lawyers® List. It takes significant experience, results, and a strong reputation to pass the rigorous, patented selection process.

  • Dedicated to the Community

    In addition to providing sterling legal representation, including pro bono services to indigent clients, we strive to be active in the local community through volunteering, stewardship, and civic involvement.

  • Trial-Tested Advocacy

    We are true trial lawyers, ready for any and all courtroom litigation challenges. No matter how complex your case may be, we have the resources, experience, and insight to protect and fight for your rights.

  • Known for Personalized Service
    We understand that each case is unique, and every client deserves individualized attention. We are committed to providing one-on-one counsel and creating legal strategies tailored to your specific needs.