Protecting the Best Interests of Your Child in Florida
Child custody laws vary from state to state. This lack of uniformity can be a source of confusion in matters of child custody when the parents of a child live in different states, or when one parent moves to a new state. Because of this, for those with an interest in the custody of a child, it is critical to understand the standards that state courts follow to make child custody-related determinations. In Florida, the standard for creating or modifying a child custody arrangement is “the best interests of the child.” As one might imagine, these “best interests” are themselves subject to myriad sub-factors.
A child custody determination puts the power of the law behind the creation or modification of a time-sharing arrangement within a parenting plan. It is about responsibility, and the law is there to enforce the allocation of responsibility that it has deemed to best promote the welfare and interests of the child, or children, in question.
Parental Consistency is Fundamental to the Best Interests of the Child
First, a court looks to the history of each parent-child relationship at issue. The court will ask, “has each parent demonstrated a consistent willingness to develop a close and ongoing parent-child relationship, to respect any existing time-sharing schedule, and to deal with any changes in a reasonable way?” Unsurprisingly, in crafting an arrangement most beneficial to the child, the court’s determination will reflect a preference for a parent who has demonstrated this consistent willingness in an exemplary fashion.
External Realities Impacting the Division of Parental Responsibilities
Second, the court will consider the way in which parental responsibilities will be divided up following the custody determination. Certain realities, such as a parent’s availability and proximity to the child, will have bearing on a custody arrangement. For example, limited availability and/or decreased proximity could result in the delegation of parental responsibilities to third parties. At that point, the court would need to inquire to the character and reputation for responsibility of any third parties.
The Best Interests of the Child Require that the Child’s Interests Be Put First
Third, in creating or modifying a child custody arrangement, the court will consider whether a parent will put the child’s interests above their own interests. A custodial parent must be able to determine the needs of child, and then act to meet those needs. Additionally, a custodial parent must be able to distinguish his or her own desires from the needs of the child, and then put the child’s needs first.
Additional factors in a determination of the best interests of the child include:
– The effect of geographical realities on the parenting plan;
– The moral fitness of the parents;
– The home, school, and community record of the child; and
– The reasonable preferences of the child.
Contact an Experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney Today
Are you concerned about the best interests of your child? Are custody-related issues affecting your financial, emotional, or physical well-being? If you need help in the legal process of creating or modifying a child custody order, be sure to retain the services of an experience Orlando child custody attorney. Attorney Steve W. Marsee, P.A. is prepared to answer any family law-related questions you have, and help you overcome any obstacles you may be facing.