The short answer? No, in Florida, the mother alone does not have the power anymore to claim child custody.

Although both parents are a child’s primary caregivers, the onus of taking care of the baby largely falls on the mother. Cultural conditioning and biological needs also mean that the baby relies on the mother for quite a few years after birth. Historically, the child’s emotional bonding with the mother has always been given precedence over that of the father.

In case of a divorce, many state laws uphold the mother’s claim over the child, and custody is handed over to her in almost 90% of cases in America.

In Florida, the family courts followed the doctrine of “tender years,” whereby the mother was given custody of the children in case of a divorce. This was prevalent for several years. Unless the mother was physically or emotionally unfit to care for the child, the custody typically went to her.

However, Florida divorce and custody laws have changed, and in recent years, fathers also have a fair chance of claiming custody rights of children in case of a divorce if they can prove they will be loving parents.

What Has Changed in Florida Divorce Law Recently?

In recent years, the Florida courts have preferred granting both parents visiting rights and the ability to continue contacting their children. If both parents are physically healthy, financially stable, and mentally reliable, then the children should not be deprived of the love and care of both parents just because the adults have experienced challenges in their marriage.

Under Florida Statute 61.13 (2) (b) (1), the term “custody” has been replaced by “timesharing.” Both parents are now encouraged to rearrange their schedules so that they can be a part of their children’s lives. Fathers are also stepping into being a part of their children’s daily activities instead of just making occasional visits with a bunch of gifts.

Even if the parents are not married, if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, he can also ask for rights in court and the court will not automatically grant custody to the mother anymore.

Why Were the Changes Implemented?

The changes in Florida laws come in the wake of the fact that today mothers do not always stay at home to care for the children; in some cases, they earn more than their partners.

If the father is not granted substantial rights, the child is often forced to spend time alone or with nannies and unknown relatives when the mother is working. This gives rise to more significant behavioral problems, and the judges are now more in tune with the changing times.

The judges in Florida courts are now treating each case individually instead of granting custody rights to mothers by default. They also consider the opinion of older children about who they want to stay with, which makes them more empowered and may free them from an unhappy home in some cases.

At Tampa Divorce: Family Law and Divorce Lawyer, we have years of experience in divorce laws, and we can help you gain custody and “timesharing” rights for your children, whether you are a mother or father. We help you create a parenting plan to put your case before the judge, explaining why you will be an excellent primary caregiver. We also make sure you have visitation rights while other financial aspects of your divorce are seamlessly taken care of at such a crucial and challenging time of your lives.

Call us today at 813.370.0893, or visit us at our location at 13057 W Linebaugh Ave Ste 102, Tampa, FL, 33626, and our experienced professionals will study your case and make an actionable plan for a secure life after divorce.