To understand Florida custody laws for fathers, let’s first examine child custody laws in the past.
The history of custody in the United States is long and complicated. In the early days of Pilgrim law, when a man and a woman would decide to go their separate ways, custody was almost always awarded to the father. Alongside property and other rights, men alone held the right of ownership over their children. Children, at the time, were a valuable resource both as laborers and as heirs.
This changed over time as women began to gain more rights. Among the chief complaints by women seeking more representation under the law was the fact that they would lose custody over their children if their marriage ended. During the 19th century, worries about the effects of a motherless childhood on child development led to the Tender Doctrine. To protect the child’s interests, the courts decided to change course and to favor mothers in custody battles.
Since then, many attempts have been made to address and eliminate gender bias. Current scientific understanding is that both parents play an important role in a child’s development. Studies also show that the ideal living situation is one where both parents continue to work together to raise their child.
If that option is not available, then the courts seek to find the most suitable parent to take custody. Despite changes in the law against gender-biased custody decisions, mothers still mostly win custody battles. But the percentage of fathers gaining custody of their children has been on a steady climb.
Florida custody laws for fathers include visitation, now known as time-sharing. Before the court gets involved, parents are tasked with agreeing on a plan or schedule about the time they will spend with their children. It may be a good idea to settle these matters through professional mediators. If the parents can’t agree on a time-sharing schedule, the courts will decide one based on the best interests of the child.