What Will the Court Consider in Determining Child Custody?
Determining custody of a child in a divorce is usually one of the most emotionally fraught parts of a divorce. Unfortunately, it is also a necessary part of a divorce, as it is important the child’s best interests be upheld and the best living arrangement possible for them to be provided. If you are going through a divorce and you have children, it is important you understand what goes into child custody decisions.
Florida’s Focus on Time-Sharing
If you look at the language of Florida’s child custody statute, you will see that it contains phrases like “majority time sharing,” “equal time sharing,” and “shared parental responsibility.” This reflects the Florida legislatures intent that raising children should, whenever possible, be a joint responsibility of both parents, even in the event of a divorce. However, the statute does provide for sole parental responsibility as well, recognizing that sometimes it is better for one parent to make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical needs, religions choices, as well as their day-to-day needs. Generally, unless it is demonstrated that the parents are unable to agree on these kinds of decisions for their children, Florida courts will attempt to enforce time sharing custodial agreements.
Keeping Perspective is Important
No matter how strongly you believe that you should be awarded sole parental responsibility, even if this is rooted out of love for your child, it is important you put these feelings aside and instead focus on what is best for your child. This can be very hard to do, in light of the fact that you probably do not have the most positive feelings for your soon-to-be-ex. However, one of the most loving things you can do for your child is make ensure they have every opportunity to have a meaningful, loving relationship with both of their parents. Divorce is often a traumatic experience for children, but the trauma can be limited by ensuring that divorce doesn’t terminate their access to a parent.
What Does the “Best Interests of the Child” Mean?
Courts grant custody after determining what is in the best interests of the child. This involves courts looking at a broad array of factors like:
- Parental physical and mental health;
- Religious and cultural factors;
- The wishes of the child, if the child is mature enough to express them;
- Opportunity for interaction with a network of extended family;
- The age and sex of a child;
- Whether the child can easily adjust to changes in their community or school life;
- The child’s relationship with their siblings
- Any parent’s emotional abuse, physical violence, or drug abuse.
Courts will consider all of the above factors, and more, in total as part of a balancing test before coming to a custody conclusion.
What Do I Do if I am Divorcing and I Have Children?
Divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved, and it is important that agreements like spousal support and custody agreements reflect what is truly in the best interests of all affected parties, especially your children. If you are worried about what might happen with a custody determination, or if you simply have questions about how the custody determination works, the attorneys at Blair H. Chan, PLLC, are ready to help. Contact us today.