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Do Florida Courts Favor Mothers When Awarding Child Custody in 2020?


Many fathers considering divorce are concerned about losing the child custody battle simply because they think that Florida courts are more likely to favor mothers when giving primary custody.

But is that really the case? Are Florida courts biased against fathers when it comes to custody?

Are Florida Courts Biased Against Fathers When Awarding Custody?

Many fathers assume that Florida courts automatically favor the mother when awarding child custody. However, Florida courts cannot make custody decisions based on gender.

It may seem that there is a gender bias in Florida’s family courts if you compare the percentage of mothers getting primary custody versus the percentage of fathers receiving custody.

However, it is worth mentioning that in previous decades, courts used the “tender years” doctrine that favored mothers over fathers in custody cases. Florida was one of the states that used the doctrine to give primary custody to the mother.

Under the tender years theory, courts argued that children are better off with the mother rather than the father. Thanks to the controversial doctrine, mothers received primary custody in about 90% of cases, according to the Florida Bar.

However, courts began to ditch the doctrine as an increasing number of studies showed that children are better off spending an equal amount of time with both parents.

The existence of the doctrine a few decades ago is one of the reasons why fathers are still concerned about gender bias in Florida family courts in 2020.

Florida Law Favors the Child’s Frequent & Continuing Contact with Both Parents

Eventually, Florida Statute 61.13(2)(b)(1) replaced the tender years doctrine. The current law dictates that children must have “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents after their divorce or separation.

Thus, the 2020 law is not biased against any gender, nor does it recommend any specific timesharing schedule for the mother or father when awarding child custody. In fact, Florida’s state law prohibits any form of gender bias in custody cases. Also, it has become challenging for one parent to be awarded sole custody.

But Do Florida Courts Still Favor Mothers Over Fathers in 2020?

Although Florida courts have ditched the term “custody” and replaced it with “timesharing,” many people still refer to it as custody. Under Florida’s family law, both parents are encouraged to create a timesharing schedule that will be incorporated into their parenting plan.

And while the legal presumption is that equal timesharing with both parents is the best “custody” arrangement, many fathers in Florida are still reluctant to believe that courts no longer favor mothers in custody cases.

Statistically speaking, mothers are awarded physical custody more often than fathers for various legitimate reasons. For example, a mother may get primary custody when:

  • The father has a history of substance abuse or was convicted of domestic violence;
  • The father’s busy schedule or frequent business trips prevent him from spending an adequate amount of time with the child; or
  • The child prefers to live with the mother.

If you feel that your custody arrangement is unfair because the court was biased against you when establishing the timesharing plan, speak with our Orlando child custody & timesharing attorneys to discover your options. Contact Donna Hung Law Group today. Call at 407-999-0099.