Nothing matters more than the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being of your children. As divorced parents ourselves, we have both lived first-hand through the challenges of negotiating a parenting plan. We empathize with our clients and share their belief that children are the number one priority in a family law matter. We can help you resolve the agonizing decisions as to how children will share time with each of parent following a divorce or other family law matter. The very best interests of your children are the compass that guides how we facilitate negotiations in this sensitive area.
The Best Interests Standard
Florida law makes the “best interests” of children the primary consideration for all decisions concerning custody, time-sharing, and parental responsibility. Family Court judges consider the following factors:
- The moral fitness of each parent.
- The mental and physical health of each parent.
- The demonstrated ability of each parent to facilitate a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities, including the extent to which those responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to those of the parent.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
- Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pendency of litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from making disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule
If you or someone you care about is facing a child custody case, our mediators may be able to mediate the dispute. Please contact us today at (813) 331-5699 or schedule a mediation online.