The Legal Process Of Seeking Custody Of A Child In Florida
The legal process of seeking custody of a child in Florida can be a complex and emotionally charged process. Still, it is important for individuals seeking custody to understand their rights and the legal process to effectively advocate for their position. Below we will provide an overview of the legal process for seeking custody of a child in Florida, including relevant statutes and considerations by the court.
Types of Custody in Florida
In Florida, there are two types of custody — legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including decisions about education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody refers to the actual physical possession and control of the child.
In Florida, the court may award joint legal custody, meaning both parents have equal decision-making authority, or sole legal custody, meaning only one parent has decision-making authority. The court will also award physical custody, which may be shared or granted to one parent.
Filing for Custody in Florida
To file for custody in Florida, an individual must first be a “party” to the case, which generally means they are the child’s parent, legal guardian, or another family member (if both parents are considered unable to properly take care of the kid).
- The first step in the process is to file a petition for custody with the court. This petition must include the child’s name and birthdate, the names and addresses of the parties involved, and a statement of the relief being sought (e.g., sole legal custody, joint physical custody).
- The petition must also be served on the other party, either by personal service (handing the documents to the other party) or by publication (if the other party cannot be located).
- After the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing to determine custody. At the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments in support of their position. The court may also appoint a guardian ad litem (an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the child) or order a social investigation to gather additional information.