What are the Best Interests of the Child?
Couples trying to navigate a divorce is difficult enough, but when minor children are involved the situation can get much more complex very quickly. If a couple cannot agree on aspects of their divorce settlement like child custody, visitation, or child support the court will make the determinations based on the best interests of the child. But what is considered the best interest of the child and how does the court come to that decision? At the law office of Blair H. Chan, III, our experienced and dedicated Tampa divorce attorneys are here to help you navigate all issues involving your child during a Florida divorce.
Best Interests Factors
As a general rule, Florida law recognizes that children benefit most from frequent contact with both parents and having both parents involved in the decision making in their child’s upbringing after a divorce. When determining the best interests of the child, the judge in the case will consider a long list of factors relevant to the parenting abilities of both parents that cover broad topics such as health and safety, emotional and developmental needs, co-parenting ability and communication skills, moral fitness, custody options, parenting plans, and more.
The factors included in the determination of the best interests of the child include the following for consideration:
- The ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship and honor the time-sharing schedule.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities.
- The 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.
- 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, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child.
- The capacity of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child.
- The 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 capacity of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The 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.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
Call or Contact Us Today
To learn more about the factors involved in the best interests of your child or to answer any other questions about a Florida divorce, call or contact the office of Blair H. Chan, III today.