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Steve W. Marsee, P.A. - Attorney At Law
Experienced Family Law Attorney
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Determining the Best Interests of the Child

If a child is involved in a divorce proceeding, part of the settlement agreement is determining child custody and visitation rights. Also known as shared parental responsibility in Florida, the court encourages the parents to come to an agreement on their own regarding custody and any visitation rights. If an agreement cannot be reached, the family court judge determines custody based upon the best interests of the child.

Factors Determining the Best Interests

The factors that the court takes into consideration when determining what is in the best interests of the child can be found in Section 61.13 of the Florida statutes. It states that “For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent’s relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.”

Determining factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship;
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties;
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires 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;
  • The moral fitness of the parents;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents;
  • The home, school, and community record of the child;
  • The reasonable preference of the child;
  • The demonstrated knowledge and capacity of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child such as the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things;
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child such as discipline, 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;
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding 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;
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities;
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse;
  • The capacity of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation by not discussing the litigation with the child and not sharing disparaging comments about the other parent to the child;
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs; and
  • Any other factor that is deemed relevant.

Contact an Orlando Family Law Attorney

Each case regarding child custody and what is considered the best interests of the child is different. If you or someone that you know has questions regarding child sharing or what is considered the best interests of a child in the Orlando area, let the experienced family law attorneys at Steve W. Marsee, P.A. help. Call or contact the office today for a confidential consultation of your case.

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