How does Florida decide child custody?

When parents divorce in Florida, they have the opportunity to create a custody and parenting plan that addresses both the needs of the child and their rights as parents. When former spouses are unable to agree, however, the family court judge decides on behalf of the family. 

Learn more about the factors the state uses to determine child custody. 

Types of custody 

Florida recognizes both legal and physical child custody. The court usually orders shared legal custody, which is the ability of each parent to make important decisions on the child’s behalf. Although the presumption in Florida is for shared physical custody, the exact parenting time schedule depends on the specific needs of the child and the family. 

Safety and health of the child 

Florida favors parenting arrangements in which both parents share responsibility for raising and caring for their children. The exception occurs when one parent has a history of neglect, abandonment, child abuse or domestic violence. The judge will also consider whether each parent is mentally and physically able to care for the child, including any history of or current substance use. 

In addition to a child’s physical health and safety, parents must demonstrate attention to the child’s emotional and developmental needs. Factors in this type of support include consistent discipline, knowledge of the child’s daily life, the ability to provide routines, and whether the child can emotionally handle a schedule involving equal time with both parents. 

Communication and co-parenting 

Parents must demonstrate a willingness to encourage a healthy relationship between the other parent and the child. This includes adherence to any existing time-sharing schedule, communication about important events and milestones in the child’s life as well as schedule changes, and whether either parent disparages the other in front of the child. 

Parents must present the court with a parenting plan, which will be legally binding if the judge approves. This document should include details about sharing time and responsibilities of parenting and information about how the parents will communicate with one another. 

How can you divide an IRA in a divorce?

When you and your spouse are preparing for the property division phase of your Florida divorce, the inventory of your retirement accounts may have you feeling a little nervous. You may feel that it would be better to trade other assets in order to keep accounts intact and avoid penalties, and in some cases, that may be the way to go if you and your spouse can agree.

But different types of retirement accounts have different rules for how they can be divided in divorce. While some of them incur penalties, fortunately, your IRA does not.

According to the Entrust Group, the IRS will allow you to take certain actions with your IRA withoutpenalizing or taxing you for them. These both involve transfers:

       Transfer Incident to Divorce: This is a direct transfer. Through a domestic relations order from the court, your former spouse may make a request to the financial institution to have the funds transferred to his or her name.

       Renaming: Instead of your former spouse requesting a transfer, you create a new account and change the name on the original account to your ex’s. Then you transfer the amount of the funds that you are keeping to the new account. If your divorce settlement states that the entire account will become your former spouse’s property, then all you have to do is change the name from yours to his or hers.

Because your situation is unique, there may be some aspects that would make one of these division methods less advantageous. Therefore, this general information should not be interpreted as legal advice.