Navigating the complexities of a divorce can be challenging. When children are part of the equation, understanding how custody decisions get made becomes a paramount concern. In Florida, the courts follow specific guidelines and principles when determining custody.
While many factors play into this determination, understanding the basics can provide clarity and help parents prepare for this crucial aspect of the divorce process.
Defining the best interests of the child
Florida courts follow the doctrine of the ‘best interests of the child’ when determining custody. This broad principle encompasses various factors, including the child’s emotional and physical well-being, the capacity of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs and the child’s own preferences, provided the child is of a suitable age and maturity.
Assessing the parent’s capability
Florida courts thoroughly evaluate the capability of each parent to provide for the child. This includes evaluating the parent’s mental and physical health, moral standing and ability to provide a consistent routine for the child. The courts also consider the willingness of each parent to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent.
Understanding shared parental responsibility
In Florida, there is a presumption in favor of shared parental responsibility, where both parents continue to have full parental rights and responsibilities regarding their child. However, the court can order sole parental responsibility if shared responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
Considering geographic stability and schooling
The courts will also consider the child’s ties to their school, home and community. The objective is to ensure geographic stability and minimize disruption to the child’s routine and social life.
Factoring in the child’s wishes
Florida law allows the court to consider the reasonable preferences of the child, depending on the child’s age, intelligence and understanding of the circumstances.
The process of determining custody in a Florida divorce is a multi-faceted one, focusing on the best interests of the child. As parents navigate this process, focusing on the child’s well-being can guide the way.