What are the laws on child support, child custody and visitation in Florida?

Florida Statutes do not use the word “custody” or designate a primary or secondary residential parent. In Florida, both parents have “time-sharing” with their children. The court will order a time-sharing schedule that is in the best interests of the children.

The court will order either or both parents to pay child support in accordance with mandatory state guidelines, unless the court makes a specific finding that the guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate. The statutory guidelines specify a minimum amount that is determined directly from the parents' combined net monthly income, apportioned according to each parent’s ability to pay.

In Florida, under a time-sharing arrangement, the court may designate a custodial parent with whom the child maintains a primary residence, while the other parent is granted a schedule of time for visiting with the child. In a very few cases, the court may order sole parental responsibility over a child's welfare, primary residence, education, or medical care, as determined to be in the child’s best interests.

Factors the court reviews in order to determine physical custody include each parent’s moral fitness, mental and physical health, and ability to provide the child’s basic material needs. The court also considers which parent is more likely to allow continuing contact with the nonresidential parent, emotional ties, provision of a stable environment, evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, among other factors.

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