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Legal Information: Florida


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Laws current as of October 6, 2023

How do I file for custody (parental responsibility)?

How you file for custody (parental responsibility) will depend upon the circumstances of your case.

If you are married but are involved in a divorce proceeding in Florida, parental responsibility will be determined in the divorce proceeding. If you are married and have not begun a divorce, you would file in the circuit court where the child lives.

If you are not married, you may file a petition to determine paternity. The court will order DNA testing, enter a parenting plan dealing with parental responsibility and creating a time-sharing arrangement and award child support. This can be done in the circuit court in the county where the child lives. However, there can be pros and cons to establishing legal paternity - you may want to talk to a lawyer about the pros and cons of filing to establish paternity or filing for custody before you file.

The Florida Courts website has many of the relevant forms that need to be filed on their website.

Also, if you are filing a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence, you can ask for temporary custody of your child in your petition. However, any custody order that you get would expire when the injunction expires.

Note: If you want to modify (change) a parenting plan, you may file in the circuit court in the county where either parent and the child reside or in the circuit court in which the original order was entered.1

1 F.S.A. § 61.13(2)(d)