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Five Child Custody Factors in St. Lucie County


Until fairly recently, Florida family law was heavily weighted in favor of mothers, at least informally. But now, Florida has a co-parenting law. So, the child custody factors are much more important than they were before.

Briefly, a phrase like “joint custody” does not necessarily mean a 50-50 timeshare arrangement. This phrase usually refers to joint legal custody, which is the right to make decisions concerning the children’s residence, education, medical care, and so on. Some 50-50 options, such as block scheduling, are available, but they are not always in the child’s best interests.

Parenting Burden

Almost inevitably, young children will be in daycare and after-school care. Pretty much all parents have day jobs outside the home, especially after a divorce. But residential custodians should be able to spend most nights, weekends, and holidays with the children. If a nanny or sitter will be with the children during these times, even on a part-time basis, that arrangement may undercut a parent’s case for residential status.

Ability to Meet Developmental Needs

Many times, “developmental needs” is a nice way of saying puberty. Boys and girls have different experiences at this stage. Not all parents have the tools or temperament to deal with these changes. Other times, “developmental needs” refers to changing educational needs. Most parents have the tools and temperament to help young children color in the lines and cut paper. But algebra homework and term papers over obscure English literature works are a different story. Frequently, this factor looms larger in modification proceedings than in original determinations.

Parental Involvement in the Child’s Life

Residential parents are not expected to bake cookies and chaperone field trips. But they are expected to meaningfully participate in extracurricular activities. Dropping off and picking up the child may not be enough. Residential custodians should also encourage children when appropriate.

Ability to Co-Parent

As mentioned, Florida has a co-parenting law. Both parents are expected to participate in child-rearing matters. Respect for the child is an important part of this equation, and so is respect for the other parent’s parenting time. St. Lucie County family law judges usually take parental alienation syndrome very seriously. That includes minor things, like 6:00 p.m. exchanges which consistently occur at 6:30, and big things, like denying visitation. Additionally, a good co-parenting environment includes more than tolerance. A good residential custodian should encourage contact with the other parent, at least in most cases.

History of Domestic Violence

If one parent has any history of physical, emotional, or other domestic violence, meaningful contact is usually not in the child’s best interest. Any contact is usually limited and often supervised by a third party, such as an in-law. These restrictions may apply even if the domestic violence incident involved a different family. Often, if these parents complete anger management or other self-improvement classes, judges consider lifting these restrictions. That’s also true in other areas, if the circumstances have substantially changed and the proposed new order is in the child’s best interests.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

Child custody and visitation determinations involve a number of factors.  For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie divorce lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters throughout the Treasure Coast area.





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