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What Is a Custodial Parent?

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In Florida, a custodial parent has primary physical custody of a child following a legal divorce or separation. As part of the legal requirements imposed by Florida family courts, custodial parents are responsible for the day-to-day care of a child. They must decide about the child’s health, education, and welfare.

Whether you’re thinking about divorce, seeking custody, or considering adoption in Florida, it’s essential to know how custodial parent status may affect your rights and obligations.

Custodial Parent Laws in Florida

Florida statutes define a custodial parent as the parent with whom the child spends most of their time. Many court documents refer to custodial parents as the “primary residential parent.” On the other hand, non-custodial parents hold legal visitation rights but do not have primary physical custody of the child.

Florida’s laws and family court mandates outline the rights and obligations of custodial parents across the state. Generally, custodial parents must provide the child with basic elements to ensure their health and well-being, such as:

  • Education
  • Medical care
  • Religious upbringing
  • Safe home environment
  • Food and clothing

Under the law, custodial parents are also entitled to receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent. Florida child support is calculated based on the income of both parents, the number of children, and the amount of time the child spends alongside each parent.

In addition to receiving child support, the custodial parent may be eligible for other forms of financial assistance. For example, the custodial parent may claim the child as a dependent, which can result in a tax credit or deduction.

Becoming a Custodial Parent in Florida

Becoming a custodial parent in Florida can be achieved through numerous legal mechanisms.

Divorce Petition

The most common way to obtain custodial parent status is through a divorce or separation. Whenever a couple with children decides to end their marriage or relationship, they must establish a parenting plan that outlines important elements, such as time-sharing arrangements and parental responsibilities.

If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the courts must rule on these difficult matters. Judges will consider a variety of factors when making their decision, including:

  • Child’s best interests
  • History of abuse or neglect
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child

After reviewing evidence and hearing testimony, judges will make a final ruling to establish a custodial parent.


Another way to become a custodial parent in Florida is through adoption. If a person wishes to adopt a child, they must first obtain legal custody. Once legal custody has been established, the adoptive parent can petition the court to grant them full parental rights and responsibilities, including physical custody of the child.

Grandparents and other family members may also seek custody of a child if the child’s parents cannot provide a safe environment. In these cases, the court will consider the child’s best interests and the ability of the relative to provide a safe and stable home environment.

Becoming a Custodial Parent: The Bottom Line

Becoming a custodial parent in Florida is a complex and often emotional process. 

Custodial parents are responsible for providing a safe and stable home environment for their children and making decisions about their care and upbringing. However, they also have certain rights, such as receiving child support payments and making decisions about the child’s education and healthcare.

If you are considering seeking custody of a child in Florida, it is crucial to get professional advice from a qualified attorney who can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights and interests are protected. 

Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today

For more information, contact our experienced Orlando child custody lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC by calling (407) 831-0203 to schedule a free consultation.

Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803
United States

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