10 Factors That May Determine Your Child Custody Rights
The state of Florida no longer assigns primary or secondary custody; instead, time is usually split 50/50. If the parents cannot agree or the courts find that equal time sharing is not in the child’s best interest, one parent may be granted custody for the majority of the time.
How is Custody Determined?
During a divorce, parents will need to come to an agreement regarding time sharing and decision making. This is called a parenting plan and must still be submitted in writing for official approval from the court.
If a parenting plan cannot be agreed upon by both parents, the court will assist with the process by determining what is in the best interests of the child. Evidence can be submitted to the state of Florida courts to demonstrate why a particular factor favors one parent over another. This evidence can be submitted through personal testimony or witness testimony by family, friends and teachers.
Parents are also able to secure the services of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) who will interview and observe the family, witnesses and, if they are old enough, the child. The GAL will then make an unbiased recommendation to the court regarding custody.
Factors in Determining Custody Awards
There are a number of primary factors that the court will look at in determining how to award child custody:
- How much of the parental responsibilities will be performed by a third party, such as a nanny or caretaker. Tasks that each parent is accustomed to performing and how the tasks were divided before divorce will also be taken into consideration.
- The amount of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and how many changes the child would have to adapt to. This includes a new home, new town and the child’s school.
- The moral status, mental health and physical health of the parents.
- The child’s preference, if the child is mature enough for the court to consider his or her opinion.
- Each parent’s ability to stay informed on the child’s life, including friends, teachers, doctors, daily activities, and favorite things.
- The parent’s ability to provide a consistent routine for the child, including discipline and establishing daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The ability of each parent to be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The ability of each parent to maintain an environment which is free from any substance abuse.
- The parent’s willingness to cooperate and encourage contact with the other parent, and the ability to communicate about any issues regarding the child with the other parent.
- If there is evidence of violence, abuse or child neglect, either a prior or pending action, the court can use that as a factor when considering what is in the best interests of the child.
Contact LaFrance Law if you would like help in understanding your parental rights and creating a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your children while providing you the quality time you deserve.