Is Florida a 50/50 custody state?

A couple of years ago Florida changed its statute on custody. Everybody thought the reason for the change was to make Florida a 50-50 custody state. That wasn’t the reason for the change at all. Actually, the reason for the change was pretty simple.

In Florida, too many people have never understand the law on how kids are to be raised by unmarried parents. Parents with primary custody often like authoritarians. They think that, just because they have “primary custody,” they are in complete control of the kids. They say things like, “I have primary custody, therefore you have no say in where the kids go to school.” They try to tell the noncustodial parent that they can’t show up for doctor visits, or that they can control what the kids did on the noncustodial parent’s time.

This wasn’t the law at all, either before the statute changed or after. This was never the law. So the statute was changed to make it clearer that this wasn’t the law. The statute was changed to use words like “timeshare” instead of “custody.” This change was so that people would understand that one parent has no more control over the kids than the other divorced parent.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the courthouse. So many people expected the statute to change into a 50-50 statute that it actually changed into a 50-50 statute, at least in some places.

In Florida, it seems things are changing. Despite the fact that not one word of that statute changed to turn Florida into a 50-50 state, strangely, Florida is slowly becoming a 50-50 state. In many parts of Florida, judges are deciding that 50-50 is the better custody choice for parents. Surprisingly, what everyone thought was going to happen with the new statute, but didn’t, actually did. Weird.

54 thoughts on “Is Florida a 50/50 custody state?”

  1. Hi Kim,

    Basically, “100% parental responsibility” means only one parent has “control” of the child. So, one parent would decide which school the child attended, whether the child would play a sport, etc. Compare that with “100% timeshare,” which means the child only spends overnights at one parents house and only lives with one parent.

  2. Hi Barbara Bishop,

    Maybe “default condition” is a bad term for me to use. Let’s just say that there is more resistance to 50/50 timeshare in the St. Pete/Clearwater area than there is in many other parts of Florida. And I’m sorry this is happening to your son. It’s absurd that the mother is “withholding” timeshare because your son filed for paternity. But take home: judges hate these punitive behaviors, and it will probably go against the mother in the end. In fact, those types of behaviors are the type of thing that will the judge likely favor giving your son more time, perhaps even a majority of the time.

  3. Does 50/50 shared custody only pertain to divorced parents or can this be true for parents that never married. If the father has signed the birth certificate and has a written agreement with the mother to have 50/50 shared custody and that the child will live the same amount of time with mother and father.

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    There are two types of cases in which timeshare (custody) can be awarded:
    1) Through a divorce (married parents) or
    2) Through a paternity action (unmarried parents).
    The process is exactly the same no matter which case we are talking about. Either way, the time spent with the kids is appointed between the parents. That time may be 50/50, or it may be under some other split. Both cases involve apportioning child support, too. Another case we often hear about, the “DOR case,” involves child support only, not timeshare.

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