Is Florida the Correct State for My Child Custody Issue?

Under chapter 61, Florida Statutes, a Florida court generally has jurisdiction for a new custody case (such as (i) divorce involving children’s issues/parenting plan, (ii) paternity/ establishment of time-sharing schedule, or (iii) temporary or concurrent custody of a child by a relative) only if one of the following is true:

  • The child has lived in Florida for at least six months immediately prior to the case being filed (even if the child is or has been temporarily absent from Florida);
  • The child has moved from Florida within the past six months, but prior to that lived in Florida for at least six months; or
  • No other state or country has jurisdiction over the child (or the court of the child’s home state or country has declined jurisdiction) and the child has significant connections to Florida.

A Florida court may also take temporary jurisdiction if there is an emergency, such as if a child is abandoned in Florida or an order is necessary to prevent the abuse or mistreatment of a child.

Interestingly, a Florida Court may have jurisdiction to dissolve a marriage but not to enter an order on children’s issues.  For example, if a mother moves to Florida without her children and lives here for six months, a Florida court could dissolve her marriage, distribute most of her assets and liabilities, and award her alimony, but leave the issues of parental responsibility and time-sharing to the child’s home state.

Please keep in mind that there are separate rules when a party is looking to modify an existing custody order.  Usually, once a Florida court has established that it has jurisdiction over issues concerning a child, it will retain exclusive jurisdiction to modify an order concerning that child.

Jurisdiction is a highly technical area of the law.  If you are looking to retain a Florida family law attorney and have questions related to jurisdiction, you may schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form.

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