4 Things Florida Courts Consider as Part of the Child’s Best Interests

Virtually every child custody decision is based on the child’s best interests. This means that the judge uses a number of factors to determine custody arrangements. These factors vary from state to state, since child custody cases are handled slightly differently in every state. Here are 4 things Florida courts consider as part of the child’s best interests.

1. Emotional and Developmental Needs

Parents are expected to put their children’s needs before their own. As such, the judge will assess each parent’s contribution towards the child’s development as well as their involvement in the child’s life. This may involve demonstrating a few things. For example, does the parent know the child’s teachers, medical care providers, and friends? Does he or she participate in the child’s school or after-school activities?

Florida courts prefer arrangements that minimize disruption and promote stability. It is therefore important to demonstrate the ability to provide routines, for instance, bedtime, meal, and homework schedules for the child prior to the divorce. An arrangement that involves frequent travels may not be conducive for the children, especially if they are young. Older children who have the capacity to make mature and intelligent decisions may be allowed to voice their preference regarding custody.

2. Co-parenting and Communication Skills

Florida courts always encourage the development of a positive parent-child relationship. Each parent should also be able to promote a good relationship between the kids and the other parent. As such, they should demonstrate the ability to honor the proposed parenting arrangement without the need for court intervention.

The court will consider the parents’ ability to communicate with each other and to present a unified front when it comes to major issues. If it is determined that a parent has provided false evidence of child abuse, child neglect, child abandonment, sexual violence, or domestic violence against the other parent, he or she may have their parenting time reduced. The court also expects the parents to protect the children from divorce stress through productive communication, which includes avoiding making damaging comments about the other parent in the presence of the child.

3. Health and Safety

Sometimes the court may decide to award sole custody if it determines that shared parental responsibility would put the child in harm’s way. For instance, a parent may lose custody if there is evidence of child abuse, child neglect, or sexual violence. In some cases, the judge may decide to enforce supervised visitation.

4. Geographic Variability

Florida courts place a strong emphasis on the geographic location of the parents, especially in regards to their proximity with the children’s school. Judges favor arrangements that are not too disruptive to the child’s life, for instance allowing them to stay in the same school or neighborhood. However, the arrangement should not be designed to deny one parent access to the children, even if the other parent has sole physical custody. If you submit a request to relocate and the judge believes that you are simply trying to limit or restrict the other parent’s access, your request will be denied. Nonetheless, there are some instances where relocating might be in the child’s best interest, like if the move allows them to attend a better school.

No matter how nasty your divorce turns out, you are obligated to uphold the best interests of your children. If you need an experienced attorney to represent you in your case, the Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A. has got you covered. Get in touch today.