Best Interests of the Child Factors in Florida

When divorcing parents enter court to determine child custody arrangements, judges in Florida will examine the best interests of the child in order to come to a decision. While the state law recognizes that children tend to benefit from maintaining constant contact and communication with both parents, a judge will analyze each situation and decide what’s best based on the specific circumstances when both parents were married and when divorce is finalized.

The factors based on the best interests of the child include the following:

  • If each parent can promote and advocate a close and continuing parent-child relationship, execute the time-sharing schedule, and be reasonable when required changes occur.
  • The foreseen division of parental duties once litigation is over, such as the possibility of some parental responsibilities delegated by third parties.
  • If each parent can properly base their decisions on the needs of the child, instead of the needs or desires of their own.
  • The amount of time the child has lived in a safe, secure and satisfying home environment and the benefit of maintaining stability.
  • The geographic aspect of the parenting plan and how it may affect the needs of school-age children and the amount of time spent traveling in order to execute the parenting plan.
  • Each parent’s moral fitness.
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health.
  • The child’s home, school and community record.
  • If the child demonstrates he/she is intelligent, experienced and sufficient enough to express their desires, then the reasonable preference of the child is a factor.
  • Each parent’s capacity to understand the needs and desires of their minor child, such as their child’s friends, teachers, health care providers, and hobbies.
  • Each parent’s capacity to provide a dependable routine for the child, such as meals, discipline and curfew.
  • Each parent’s capacity to cooperate with the other parent in regards to major issues surrounding the child.
  • Evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, child abandonment, sexual violence or child neglect.
  • Evidence of false information regarding any previous or pending action based on domestic violence, child abuse, child abandonment, sexual violence, or child neglect demonstrated by either parent.
  • The duties and tasks performed by each parent prior to litigation and during the pending litigation.
  • Each parent’s capacity to participate and be involved in the child’s education and extracurricular activities.
  • Each parent’s capacity to maintain a substance-free environment.
  • Each parent’s capacity to protect the child from ongoing litigation by not sharing information and degrading the other parent.
  • Each parent’s capacity to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is important to determining a particular parenting plan, such as the time-sharing schedule.

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