Child Custody in Florida
Child custody is referred to as Time Sharing in the State of Florida, and relates to the who, when, and where the child(ren) spend their time post divorce or separation. I use the word custody for ease of reference only. This guide provides a summary that covers most FAQ's I've encountered.
Florida Statute "The Factors"F.S. 61.13 provides a lengthy list of "factors" the Judge must consider when entering a Parenting Plan and Time Sharing schedule. The final factor listed in the statute is "Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule." In essence, the final factor allows for the Judge to consider anything else that may be relevant that is not specifically accounted for F.S. 61.13. The Florida Statutes can be found on-line by doing a simple google search. The Judge will consider all of these factors, and in many cases, the Judge's Order will list each factor and which parent each factor favors.
EvidenceThe Judge applies the statutory factors to the evidence presented at the final hearing to arrive at his or her final decision. Evidence is a complex and important topic. During a child "custody" hearing only testimony, documents, and other forms of evidence that are permissible by the rules of evidence, may be considered by the Judge. This means that you may want to show or tell the Judge something, but you may be prevented from doing so because you did not comply with the rules of evidence. Preparing and organizing your evidence, including but not limited too, ensuring it complies with the rules of evidence and anticipating any evidentiary objections, will play a big part in your chances for success in your child custody case.
Child SupportAn automatic result of almost every final child custody hearing is the establishment of child support (F.S. 61.30). Generally, child support cannot be waived by either party. Child support is calculated by a formula provided in Florida Statue. There are many on-line Florida Child Support calculators that may give you an idea of what the resulting child support may be in your case. Generally, child support is calculated using both parents respective incomes, the number of overnights the child(ren) spend with each respective parent, the cost of health insurance premiums, and the cost of child care. This is an oversimplification, as calculating child support in another important and somewhat mysterious area of the law. Just be aware, that as a by product of a Judge entering a Parenting Plan/Time Sharing schedule, Child Support guidelines will be calculated and child support will be established, in many cases, retroactively.