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Things to Know About Pursuing Sole Custody of Your Children


If you’re getting divorced or separated in Florida, child custody will likely be a hotly contested issue in your case. It can be difficult for spouses to come to an agreement as to who spends what amount of time with the children, what the general ground rules are, and how children will spend the majority of their lives until they reach the age of 18. In some cases, parents wish to attempt to obtain “sole custody” of their children for a number of reasons, be it protection, spite, or as an attempt to get the upper hand in negotiations.

“Sole custody” is a common term for essentially having a monopoly over spending time with your children as well as the ability to make decisions how they live their lives, such as where they go to school, how they are raised religiously, and what activities they are allowed to participate in. However, these instances are nearly impossible to obtain in Florida, as the state’s laws are designed to keep both parents involved in the lives of their child to the maximum possible extent. The courts assume that a child needs the presence of both of their parents in order to grow and lead a happy and productive life. As a result, they frequently throw out or reject any parent’s requests to restrict the other parent’s rights.

There are exceptions to this, however. Abuse is perhaps the most prevalent. If a child has been the victim of domestic violence from one parent, the other is obligated to do everything in their power to stop the abuse and get the child to safety. Neglect is another case, such as allowing a child to become injured or ill as a result of poor or negligent care provided by one parent.

In these instances, the courts can do several things to restrict a parent’s ability to spend time with their child, but even then they try to err away from completely eliminating a parent’s involvement in their child’s life. The offending parent may be limited in several ways, including:

  • Denying visitation until further notice (rarely does this stay permanent)
  • Allowing supervised visitation only
  • Denying overnight visitation
  • Implementing other child protection measures

Each of these cases is unique and the courts will make their decisions based on what they believe to be the best interests of the child.

What this also means is that parents who attempt to obtain sole custody out of spite or to deny the other parent their rights as a bargaining chip will be frowned upon severely, and may lead to negative repercussions in a divorce case. Odds are this request will be denied and the requesting parent could be further penalized in a different provision of the divorce as compensation for it. This can also be true for instances of parental alienation, where one parent attempts to sabotage the relationship between their child and the other parent.

If you would like more information about a child custody matter, the Daytona Beach divorce attorneys at Buckmaster & Ellzey may be able to help. With more than 40 years of service to our name, our firm has stood up for the rights of numerous clients who have faced a wide range of family law issues. We understand how sensitive and emotionally strenuous a family law matter can be, and our team strives to protect your rights and provide you with compassionate counsel and exceptional service in the most professional manner possible. Your interests and your children’s interests are our number-one priority, and we are dedicated to protecting them through every step of your divorce process.

If you are facing a child custody issue, call Buckmater & Ellzey today at 888.785.6540 and schedule a case evaluation.

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