How Long Does Child Custody Court Take in Florida?

April 6, 2024by Adam Sacks

Are you involved in a custody dispute regarding your child?

There is tension in any moment of indecision and you are likely to want the process finished as soon as it starts.  Read on to get a better idea of just how long child custody decisions in Florida take.


Filing of Motion in Child Custody Case

When a custody dispute arises or when a modification to an existing custody arrangement is sought, a motion must be filed with the court.

A motion for temporary custody is typically filed when there is an urgent need to establish a temporary custody arrangement until a final decision is made.

A motion for modification of custody seeks to change an existing custody agreement due to various reasons, such as a change in circumstances or the child’s best interests. [1]

Once the motion is filed, it will be reviewed by the court, and a hearing date will be set. The timing for a hearing can vary depending on the court’s caseload, it can range from a few weeks to a few months.


Will Temporary Child Custody Be Ordered?

Temporary custody can be ordered by the court based on several factors, including:

Emergency Situations: If there is an immediate threat to the child’s safety or well-being, the court may grant temporary custody to protect the child from harm. This could involve cases of domestic violence, substance abuse, or neglect.

Stability and Continuity: When the court believes that it is in the best interests of the child to maintain stability and continuity in their daily life, temporary custody may be ordered. This typically occurs when the child has been living with one parent for an extended period and disrupting their routine may not be beneficial.

Parental Fitness: If one parent is deemed unfit to care for the child, temporary custody may be granted to the other parent or a suitable guardian until a final custody determination is made. Factors such as mental health issues, substance abuse problems, or criminal activities can influence the court’s decision. [2]

Child’s Preference: When the child is older and capable of expressing their preferences, the court may consider their opinion while deciding on temporary custody arrangements. The court will assess the child’s maturity level and ability to understand the consequences of their decision.

Some cases may be resolved through mediation or negotiation, leading to a faster resolution. More complex cases that involve contested issues may take several months or even years to reach a final decision.


Will Temporary Child Custody Be Ordered?


Exchange of Information in Child Custody Case

In Florida, the exchange of information is governed by the Family Law Rules of Procedure, which outlines the necessary disclosures and procedures to be followed during a child custody case. Both parents are required to provide full financial affidavits, which include details about their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

Each parent must disclose any relevant health information that may impact their ability to care for the child. This includes mental health issues, substance abuse problems, or any other medical conditions that could potentially impact their parenting abilities. This information helps the court evaluate each parent’s fitness to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child.

Any history of domestic violence or criminal activity must also be disclosed. This includes incidents involving the parents, as well as any incidents involving the child. The court takes these factors seriously, as the safety and well-being of the child are of utmost importance.

The exchange of information in child custody cases can take time, depending on the complexity of the case and the willingness of each parent to cooperate. The court sets a specific timeframe within which both parties must exchange information.


Pre-Trial Conference for Child Custody Case

In Florida, it generally takes around 60 to 90 days from the date of filing the initial pleadings to the scheduling of a pretrial conference. This timeframe can be longer or shorter depending on the circumstances.

During the pretrial conference, the judge will evaluate the issues at hand and try to understand each parent’s position. They may inquire about the parents’ desires and concerns regarding child custody, visitation schedules, decision-making authority, and child support.

The judge may also address any urgent matters related to the well-being of the child, such as temporary custody arrangements or restraining orders if there are safety concerns.

Both parties are expected to come prepared for the pretrial conference. This includes bringing any relevant documents, such as financial records, police reports, or documented incidents related to the child’s welfare.

Have a clear understanding of your desired outcome and be ready to verbally present your arguments and evidence to the judge. This is where having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can make a significant difference, as they can guide you through the process and help you present your case persuasively.

Ideally, the pretrial conference will lead to a mutually satisfactory agreement between the parents, which may be documented as a parenting plan. In this case, the process can be concluded relatively quickly, often within a few weeks, depending on the court’s docket. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. This may significantly extend the timeline for resolving the custody matter, adding several more months to the overall process.

Every child custody case is unique, and the duration of a pretrial conference can vary based on various factors. These factors include the complexity of the case, the willingness of both parties to negotiate, and the availability of the court.


Pre-Trial Conference for Child Custody Case


Child Custody Trial

A child custody trial in Florida can take several months to a year to reach a final resolution.

After the temporary custody hearing, the court typically sets a date for the actual child custody trial.  Florida courts strongly encourage parents to resolve their disputes amicably through mediation or negotiation before moving forward with a trial.

Mediation is often mandatory unless certain exceptions apply, such as domestic violence. This is for the purpose of promoting a cooperative approach and reducing the stress and expenses associated with a full trial.

Assuming the parents are unable to reach a mutually agreeable resolution during mediation, the case will proceed to trial. During the child custody trial, both parents present their arguments and evidence to the judge, who will consider various factors outlined in Florida’s custody statutes.

The judge must make a custody determination that serves the child’s best interests, taking into account factors such as each parent’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s preference (if they are deemed to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference).

The trial process can be prolonged, especially if there are numerous disputes to be resolved or complex issues at hand.

While some cases may be resolved within a few months, others may extend to a year or longer.


Child Custody Court

The duration of a child custody trial in Florida can range from a few days to several weeks or even months. This duration depends on the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses involved, and the court’s schedule. While some cases may be resolved relatively quickly, others with more intricate legal or factual issues may require more time for the court to reach a thoughtful and well-reasoned decision.

Once the trial concludes, the court typically takes its time to review and evaluate all the evidence presented. This review process may involve researching relevant case laws, previous court decisions, and statutory guidelines pertaining to child custody.

The court’s priority is to ensure the child’s interests are upheld, and as such, they weigh all the evidence presented before making a final judgment.


Judgement for Child Custody


Sacks & Sacks handles child custody matters efficiently and effectively. Contact Sacks & Sacks today.



Q. What factors can influence the duration of a child custody court case in Florida?

If the case involves complicated disputes, such as allegations of abuse, substance abuse, or mental health concerns, it may require more time to gather evidence and evaluate the best interests of the child. The cooperation between the parents can impact the duration of the case. If parents work together and can reach a mutual agreement, the process can be expedited. If there are significant disagreements and disputes, it may require more time for negotiations, evaluations, and ultimately a court decision. The availability of court resources and the caseload of the assigned judge can also affect the timeline.

Q. Is there a waiting period before a child custody case can be heard in court in Florida?

There is no specified waiting period before a child custody case can be heard in court. The length of time it takes for a custody case to reach a court hearing can vary. While there is no formal waiting period, it may take some time for the case to progress through the necessary legal procedures before it is scheduled for a court hearing.

Q. Are there alternative methods to resolve child custody disputes outside of court in Florida?

One common approach is mediation, where a neutral third-party mediator helps the parents negotiate and reach a custody agreement. This process can be less adversarial and more cooperative, allowing the parents to have more control over the outcome. Another option is collaborative law, where each parent has their own attorney, but they commit to resolving the issue through negotiation rather than litigation.



[1] The Process: What Happens in Court – Florida Courts Help. (n.d.).


by Adam Sacks

Adam Sacks is lead Family Law Attorney at Law Offices of Sacks & Sacks, P.A. in Jacksonville, Florida. He has a BA in Psychology from 1994, and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1999 from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

Sacks and Sacks Law
1646 Emerson St. Suite B Jacksonville, FL 32207

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