Most fathers worry that their spouse will take the kids in a divorce. If you are thinking about this, you must know that the courts in Florida do not give preference to women over men in divorce proceedings. A judge will always try to award custody to both parents, and they will only award sole custody to one parent if it is strictly in the child’s best interest. You deserve the same access to your child as your soon-to-be ex, and you can fight for your rights in court.
Florida custody hearings
You and your spouse can agree on joint custody. If you can’t agree, the judge will make that decision for you. You may fear that the court will award sole custody to your ex, but they will not do so unless joint custody harms your child in some way. A judge’s decision will always come down to your child’s best interests. The judge will determine the child’s best interests by analyzing many different factors, such as:
- Each parents’ willingness to act upon the needs of a child as opposed to their own needs
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The knowledge each parent has about the child’s life
- The capacity each parent has to encourage the child to have a continuing relationship with the other parent
- The capacity of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child
Courts can also ask for the child’s preference if they are old and mature enough to understand the situation. The judge will interview the child in the court’s chambers if the child’s preference is needed. The parents cannot witness this interview, and only a court reporter can be in the room with the judge and the child.
The enforcement of the order
If the court orders joint custody, you and your future ex will have to comply with the terms of the order. If your spouse does not follow the rules, you can hold them liable in court. The court will enforce the order if they find them guilty, and they may ask your soon-to-be ex to:
- Compensate you for the time you lost with your child
- Attend a parenting court
- Pay you the court costs
- Pay the costs incurred by the children
If your spouse disobeys the rules several times, the last resort for the court would be to modify the custody order.
Your right as a father
Just because you are ending the relationship with your spouse does not mean you have to end it with your child, too. The court will not reach a decision about custody based on your role in the family but on your and your child’s specific circumstances. You’ll probably get custody of your child if you have nothing to hide. Still, if this does not happen, you must know that you can ask the court to modify the order in the future. It’s your child too, and you have the right to fight for them in court.