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Child custody steps in Florida

Child custody can sometimes be a zero-sum game in which one parent gets the child, but often the final result is something less one-sided. On the way to a final result, Floridians need to go through several steps. What are they?

The first step is for parents to try and negotiate a custody arrangement between themselves. There is more flexibility here than people may expect. For example, parents can agree that one parent gets custody. Or they can agree that one parent gets the child during the school year while the other parent gets the child during the summer. Or they can agree that one parent gets the child half the week while the other parent gets the child the other half of the week. There quite a few combinations that can work.

If agreement is not possible (which often is the case during a divorce), the next step will be to ask a judge to sort out the child custody arrangement. What decision the judge will ultimately make can be less than predictable. But figuring out which factors the court will consider is more straightforward. The overarching factor in the decision will be what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child. In getting to that conclusion, a judge will look at finances, the child's relationship with each parent and a variety of other factors. Once the judge has established a child custody arrangement, the parents must live with it or provide the judge reasons to modify the arrangement. Floridians going through the child custody process, or considering a request to modify the arrangement, may benefit from discussing their options with an experienced Florida child custody attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Custody Considerations: Step-By-Step," Accessed May 23, 2015

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