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Is Joint Custody Presumed to be Better for a Child?


Generally, Florida courts view arrangements in which divorced parents share responsibility for and time with their child as being in a child’s best interests. For this reason, most judges opt for shared custody arrangements when tasked with creating a parenting plan for a divorcing couple. However, these types of arrangements are not always in a child’s best interests, in which case, a judge could decide to implement a different time sharing arrangement. In either case, it is important for the parties involved to retain experienced Fort Lauderdale child custody attorneys before initiating divorce proceedings.

A Child’s Best Interests

Although Florida courts might presume that a shared parenting arrangement is advantageous for a child, they are always led primarily by what would be in a specific child’s best interests, which requires the application of a number of different factors to each case, including:

  • Each parent’s fitness to raise a child;
  • The willingness of both parents to facilitate an ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • The distance between the parents’ homes;
  • Both parties’ moral fitness to raise a child;
  • The child’s home, community, and school record;
  • Each parent’s willingness to provide a consistent routine for the child;
  • The parents’ physical and mental health;
  • The parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent;
  • The child’s needs and developmental stage; and
  • The parents’ willingness to keep each other informed of childcare-related issues.

In most cases, after an assessment of these factors, courts will award parents joint custody unless there is evidence that one of the parents:

  • Was convicted of an offense charged as a first degree misdemeanor or higher that involved domestic violence;
  • Gave up his or her parental rights;
  • Abandoned the child;
  • Is incarcerated;
  • Engaged in conduct that threatened the life or safety of the child;
  • Neglected or abused the child; or
  • Has a history of chronic alcohol or controlled substance abuse.

Proof of one of these elements creates a rebuttable presumption that awarding joint custody to both parents would be a detriment to the child. In these cases, courts can award sole custody to one parent and arrange for visitation for the other parent. However, even if there is no evidence that joint custody would be a detriment to a child, a judge could give one parent the right to make decisions related to certain aspects of their child’s welfare, including education and health care.

Although it is difficult to overcome the presumption that shared custody is in a child’s best interests, judges are willing to award sole custody to one parent, but only after the issue has been litigated in court. To ensure that your interests are represented during your own divorce and that you are not unfairly deprived of your parental rights, please contact our legal team today.

Call Our Office for Legal Assistance

For help ensuring that your own parenting plan reflects the best interests of your family, please call dedicated child custody lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. You can reach us by calling our Fort Lauderdale office at 954-945-7591 or by completing one of our brief online contact forms. We are standing by and eager to help you through each step of your case.



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