Understanding the “Best Interest of the Child” Standard
If you are considering a divorce, one of your largest concerns may be regarding the custody of your children, and how much time you will be able to spend with them after the divorce is finalized. While many factors go into child custody decisions, at the end of the day, courts will typically attempt to make a decision regarding child custody based on the “best interest of the child.” The best interest of the child is clearly a subjective standard, however, courts attempt to always give joint physical and legal custody to both parents as often as possible to ensure that the parent-child relationship is allowed to continue.
Factors Affecting Custody Decisions
While the “best interest of the child” may seem subjective, there are several factors that a court in the state of Florida may consider to make a determination regarding final decisions involving parenting plans and visitation rights of both parents. The court may consider the following:
- Does a parent facilitate circumstances that encourage the other parent to have a close relationship with their child?
- Does the parent behave in a reasonable manner when the child is involved?
- Does the parent honor the parenting schedule during the divorce process?
- Does the parent have the emotional capacity to consider the needs of the child above their own?
- Which parent currently provides a more stable environment regarding education, activities, and family?
- Where do both parents live in relation to each other? Will having a joint custody plan with 50/50 physical custody be too disruptive to the child because the parents live too far from each other?
- What is the mental, emotional and physical fitness of each parent?
- Does a parent provide a routine for the child regarding school, activities, homework, bedtime, and time with friends?
- Where is the child currently registered for school or activities?
- Has there ever been any evidence of sexual abuse, child abuse, neglect, emotional or physical abuse, or any kind of violence towards either the child, the other parent or any other person?
- Is there a history of violence or felonies on record?
- Has either parent provided any kind of false information to the court?
- Does a parent have the ability to shield the child from the process of the ongoing litigation between the parents by not discussing the child custody or support matters with the child?
- Does a parent speak negatively of the other parent in front of the child?
- What are the child’s preferences?
- Would there be any benefit to the child by separating them from one parent?
Courts will typically attempt to make both parents legally and financially responsible for their children and give both parents joint custody of their children in most cases. Typically, only egregious circumstances will warrant that a parent will be given sole physical or legal custody of their child.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney
While most judges will attempt to give both parents some form of custody, you should ensure that your legal rights are protected with respect to your children. Having an experienced divorce attorney in your corner can help you receive the best child custody arrangement possible. Contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorneys at the offices of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. at 954-467-6656 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.