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.