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Determining your Child’s Best Interests


When the court develops a parenting plan for a child, it considers a set of factors about the child’s lifestyle and needs to determine the plan that most effectively serves the child’s best interests. In most cases, it is in the child’s best interest to continue having a consistent relationship with both parents.

The court has the discretion to consider certain factors more heavily than others. For example, the court may consider a child’s preference if the child can articulate well-reasoned opinion regarding his or her parenting plan. However, even the most well-spoken child’s preference may be overruled if there are more serious matters at hand, such as one parent’s severe substance addiction or history of domestic violence. Below are three broad categories into which the factors the court considers for parenting plans fall. To get a stronger sense of which factors will matter most in your case, speak with an experienced family lawyer.

Your Child’s Personal Needs

Your child has many personal needs. He or she needs access to healthcare, emotional support, and academic guidance and support. Some children also need access to specialized therapy providers or other resources due to their special needs. The court considers all of a child’s personal needs and each parent’s ability to provide for these needs when it develops a parenting plan.

Your Child’s Relationships

The court also considers your child’s relationship with you, your former spouse, and all other members of your households to determine an appropriate parenting plan. Being in a household with a relative with whom he or she has a poor relationship can cause your child to suffer psychological trauma and negatively impact his or her academic progress and mental health.

Additionally, the court may consider your relationship with your former partner to determine a plan that you can both manage. When one or both of you have a history of refusing to cooperate with court orders, the court may consider this history.

You and your Spouse’s Fitness as Parents

Many of the factors the court considers to develop a parenting plan have to do with the parents’ fitness to provide for their child’s needs. Some of these are beyond the parents’ control, like their health status. Others are related to the parents’ involvement in their child’s life, like each parent’s history of being available to help with homework, meet with teachers, and take the child to his or her extracurricular activities. Other factors the court considers include:

  • Each parent’s income;
  • The stability of each parent’s home;
  • The parents’ demonstrated ability to effectively communicate with each other regarding their child; and
  • Each parent’s demonstrated ability to act in the child’s best interest, even when different from his or her own interest.

Work with an Experienced Orlando Family Lawyer

The thought if having the court impose restrictions and scheduling on your relationship with your child can be upsetting, but always remember that your parenting plan is created with your child’s best interest in mind. To learn more about how parenting plans are created and discuss yours with an experienced Orlando family lawyer, contact Steve W. Marsee, P.A. today to set up your initial consultation with our firm.



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