Best Interests Of The Child Factor #4: Stability And Continuity
In Florida, judges make child custody/time sharing decisions based on the best interests of children. According to Florida statute 61.13, courts are required to make children’s best interests the primary consideration during the establishment or modification of parental responsibility and the development, approval, or modification of parenting plans.
When it comes to making decisions on what is best for a child or children, a judge makes the final decision. However, Florida judges are usually guided by the twenty best interest factors listed in section 61.13(3). Additionally, when determining what is in the best interests of a child, a judge can evaluate other factors, apart from the twenty listed ones, affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of the child’s family.
It is interesting to look at the factors that judges consider when determining children’s best interests. In this article, you will get to learn more about the fourth factor.
Factor #4: Stability and Continuity
The fourth best interest factor under Florida statute 61.13(3)(d) reads, “The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.”
Usually, a stable environment is one where a child has resided in the same environment, with the same people, for most of their life. A stable environment is important for minor children. It is generally best for a minor child not to move frequently. Constantly changing schools, and even friends, is usually unsettling for children.
Stability also involves you, as a parent, being involved in the care and nurturing of your child. If you are seeking custody, spending too much of your free time away from your child or children may not reflect favorably on you.
A satisfactory environment is more than a furnished, clean house. Generally, a satisfactory environment is one where a child’s needs are met. A child who, among other things, is safe, eating healthy, playing enough, receiving love from both parents, receiving proper supervision, receiving medical care, and attending school regularly, can be said to be living in a satisfactory environment.
In this case, the environment is more than just the quality of a child’s bedroom or the house a child up grows in. It involves the surroundings or conditions in which a minor child lives i.e., whether it is “safe”.
Lastly, when it comes to the last part, “desirability of maintaining continuity,” Florida courts look at each parent’s desire to continue raising their child or children in a stable and satisfactory environment. The desirability of a parent to maintain a stable and satisfactory environment for their child or children can be measured by their willingness to follow a parenting plan created purposefully to help a child continue living in a stable and satisfactory environment. Usually, when parents can’t come up with such a parenting plan, the court provides one. Additionally, when a judge determines the lack of a stable and satisfactory environment, they will craft a parenting plan best suited to a child, or children’s’, needs.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you have any questions relating to best interest factors or need help with your child custody/time sharing case, contact an experienced and dedicated Fort Lauderdale family law attorney at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A., today to schedule a consultation.