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Do Florida Family Courts Favor Mothers?
A common inquiry among divorcing parents is that of favoritism – specifically, whether or not the courts favor the mother over the father in custody disputes. While from a statistical standpoint it would appear mothers win more custody battles than fathers, a custody outcome typically has little to do with the gender of the parent.
Society and individual prejudices often lead people to believe judges and court officials prefer mothers to fathers. However, by understanding how courts decide custody issues, couples can better understand why mothers statistically win the fight more than fathers.
Why the Myth Exists
One of the most persistent myths regarding divorce is that a mother will be awarded more time than the father, while the father will be required to pay more child support. This distorts the expectations of divorcing couples because it is inaccurate. Florida family court takes numerous factors into consideration when determining parenting time and custody, not simply gender.
What the Law States
Florida family law statutes clearly state that the court cannot favor the mother or father in a parenting plan dispute. The goal of parenting time plans is to encourage parents “…to share the rights and responsibilities” of raising their children, designed to serve the best interests of the child. Most importantly, gender never plays a critical role in determining what is best for the child. Judges prefer when parents work together to create a parenting plan that is realistic and works for the child based on meeting the child’s best interest.
Factors That Determine a Child’s Best Interest
When establishing time-sharing plans, the courts consider several factors, including:
Which parent is able to promote a better relationship between the child and noncustodial parent
The amount of time each parent spent with the child prior to the divorce
Amount of time each parent will be able to spend with the child after the divorce
Where each parent will live and how that will affect the child’s development
Any special needs or care the child may need, and the ability of each parent to provide that to the child
What is in the general best interest of the child
Historically, mothers have often taken more childrearing responsibilities, even if both parents are employed. This role sometimes continues after divorce, which is why courts appear as though they favor the mothers. If, however, the father has been actively engaged in care-taking of the children, the courts may feel it is in the child’s best interest for the father to maintain that role. It is also becoming more common for the Father to be the primary caretaker of the children in some families as times and historical roles have changed over the years. The courts also consider that parents may take on more active roles in the children’s lives after the parents have separated.
Meet with a Florida Divorce Attorney for Assistance with Your Parenting Plan Case
Whether you are a mother or father establishing a new time-sharing agreement or you want to request a modification to a plan already in place, contact McMichen, Cinami & Demps. Our compassionate family law attorneys can assist you with your parenting plan and can help you cooperate to avoid unnecessary courtroom battles. Contact us today for a free consultation.