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.


The court makes decisions by taking into consideration the availability of each parent and their financial capacity to care for the child, among other factors. It’s important to remember that as a father, you have as much right to raise your child as the mother does.

It’s critical to seek professional representation if you feel that you and the mother are not likely to come to a swift or amicable agreement. Negotiations regarding custody, time-sharing and the like are meant to be deliberated by the parents and their legal representatives. The courts shouldn’t intervene until it’s clear a decision cannot be made without them, but Florida custody laws for fathers give you the opportunity to go to the courts if necessary.


When parents can’t decide on what’s best for their child, the courts must get involved to make a final choice. That choice may be based on many factors, including but not limited to:

      • Likelihood to communicate with the other parent
      • Geographic viability of a given parenting plan
      • Preference of the child (the older the child is, the more weight this holds)
      • History of proven substance abuse or abusive/criminal behavior
      • Physical, mental, and financial health/stability


The first listed custody factor according to the statutes is the “demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.” Despite any potential differences or disagreements, the courts ultimately value two parents who put certain issues behind them to focus on what matters most: the future of the child.

But even if you are willing to communicate and stay open for reasonable changes, the mother may take certain measures to limit or even obstruct your ability to be a father to your child.  This may happen by her lying about your availability or influencing your child’s willingness to spend time with you, sometimes even with malicious intent. When learning about your rights, it’s also important to know when to defend them. If you suspect any parental alienation or intention to obstruct your relationship with your child from the mother, you may pursue legal action to preserve Florida custody laws for fathers.


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