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How Does Child Custody Work?

News & Blog

What is Child Custody/Parental Rights?

Child custody in Florida is referred to as Parental rights and Time Sharing, it is the legal and practical relationship between a parent/guardian and a child in their care. There are two kinds of custody in theory: legal and physical. 

Legal Parental Rights

Legal parental rights allows a parent/guardian to make important decisions concerning the welfare of the child.  Such decisions include the school they will attend, medical decisions, and their religious upbringing. Physical custody on the other hand refers to where the child will live and under who’s care. 

Physical Time Sharing

Physical time sharing is what grants a parent/guardian authority to live with and take care of the child, including time and overnights for the child.

Awarding Parental Rights and Time Sharing

When awarding parental rights and time sharing, courts must decide if one parent is entrusted with authority (Sole parental responsibility) or if both are (Joint parental responsibility). In most cases joint time sharing and parental responsibility is awarded, and the two parents must share responsibility in making important life decisions for the minor. If one of the parents continually ignores or disregards the other parent in important life decisions concerning the child, then they can be brought to court and ultimately lose parental rights and time sharing rights. If a parent has sole rights over a child, then they don’t have to deliberate with the other parent or house the child in different domiciles as they are the only recognized individuals capable of housing the minor and making important decisions for them.

Unmarried Parents and Parental Rights

In cases where the parents of the child in question are unmarried, the mother of the child automatically has legal parental rights and time sharing alone until the fathers paternity is established. Paternity can be established if the parties in question sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” a form that states under oath that the man in question is the father of the child. Another way of establishing paternity is through genetic testing to see if the child and the man in question truly are related through a Court process. Once paternity is established a court can grant joint custody if they deem it within the best interest of the child.

Parental Rights in Florida


Courts in the state of Florida decide on parental rights by determining what the best interests of the child are according to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.  In Florida a child’s parental rights andf time sharing is either awarded as sole custody or joint. Joint in the state of Florida is called “shared parental responsibility”. In these cases, one parent is granted the role of the primary joint custodian and the other is granted visitation. Courts in Florida prefer shared parental responsibility, referred to as “time-sharing”, unless it’s not in the best interests of the child. Once custody rights have been decided, parents negotiate a parenting plan outside the courtroom which addresses how much time each parent will spend with the child, what their primary domicile is, and other things such as where they will spend their holidays. This plan is then submitted to the court for approval.

Custody law is complex and requires a keen understanding of the legal profession. If you find yourself in a custody battle it is always strongly recommended you acquire legal representation.
PereGonza The Attorneys can offer a free consultation and give you insight on what the best course of action for your specific case may be. Fill out our personal intake form for more information.

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