Florida Child Custody Laws | Appealing & Modificaton

Appealing a Florida child custody decision can be an uphill battle. Find answers to commonly asked questions from a West Palm Beach divorce & family law attorney.


Appeals of Florida Child Custody Decisions are one of the most serious types of appeals that Florida Family Law Appellate Attorneys are asked to handle.  Further below are answers to commonly asked questions that Florida Child Custody Appeals Lawyers receive when it comes to appealing a judge’s decision involving children.  Clicking on each question below will open a separate web page with a detailed answer to the particular question or explanation of the particular topic.  

Generally speaking, Florida Child Custody Decisions are one of the areas where divorce court judges have the greatest discretion in their decision making.  Typically, if a judge’s decision can be viewed as reasonable, the appellate court will not disturb the decision.   That said, a Florida Child Custody Decision must be in the best interest of the children involved.  A Florida judge’s timesharing or parental responsibility order has to implement a clear parenting plan, timesharing schedule, and explain how parents should share parental responsibilities.

Given Florida’s public policy that both parents are to be involved in the upbringing of their children, a judge typically cannot impose large restrictions on a parent’s timesharing/custody arrangement with their children, or limit a parent’s ability to make decisions for their children, without a very good reason. 

It is important that the judge gives each party due process when conducting a hearing to determine or modify a Florida custody or timesharing decision.   Each parent must have the ability to adequately present their case and must be on notice that a judge will be making a decision that could affect their rights and responsibilities with respect to their children.  In most circumstances, the judge must make specific written findings to justify limiting a parent’s ability to have timesharing with their children or to exercise decision making authority over their children.  Further, judges are typically prohibited from giving one parent the ultimate ability to make decisions for their children unless there are written findings that it would be detrimental to the child for the other parent to have shared parental responsibility.

All parents should be cautioned that appealing a Florida Child Custody Decision can be an uphill battle.  Given that the “abuse of discretion” standard typically applies to a judge’s child custody decision it can be very difficult to overturn a judge’s decision on a child custody matter on appeal.  That said, since changing a child custody decision can be hard after the deadline for the appeal passes, a parent who comes out on the perceived “losing end” of a Florida Child Custody Decision should strongly consider consulting with a qualified Florida Divorce and Appellate Attorney to at least review the trial judge’s decision making as soon as possible after the decision is issued.

Below are explanations of some of the most commonly asked questions and topics that relate to appealing a Florida Child Custody Decision:

How Does a Florida Appellate Court Review a Judge’s Child Custody Decision?

What Is The “Best Interest” Standard And How Does It Apply To Florida Child Custody Determination?

What Does a Judge Have to Include in a Florida Child Custody Order?

What Restrictions Are There on a Florida Judge’s Limitation of a Parent’s Responsibility Over Their Children?

How Should Homosexuality/Adultery/Religion Affect a Florida Child Custody Decision?

Can a Florida Judge Delegate Time sharing or Decision Making to Parents, Children or Others?

When Can a Child’s Statements be Considered by a Florida Judge?

Did the Trial Court Have Jurisdiction to Make a Child Custody Determination?

When Can a Judge Modify a Prior Time sharing Order?

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