Five Children’s Best Interest Factors in Florida
In a general sense, the best interests of the child put the child’s needs ahead of pretty much anything else, including the child’s wants and the needs (or wants) of a parent. Additionally, there is a presumption that children benefit from meaningful and consistent contact with both their parents.
However, these principles are rather vague. Additionally, they mean different things to different people, and that includes attorneys, litigants, and judges. So, Florida law sets out a number of factors to follow in these situations.
Even if the dispute settles out of court, and it probably will, a Port St. Lucie family law attorney must be very mindful of these key factors.
Agreements Between the Parties
These agreements are usually in the child’s best interests. A protracted dispute usually involves intrusive social services investigations, and no one wants additional government scrutiny in their lives. Additionally, such disputes are expensive both financially and emotionally. Generally, it’s much better for the parents to spend these precious resources on their children than in litigation.
Ability to Co-Parent
“Co-parenting” has replaced “joint custody” as the most common buzzword in these situations. Effective co-parents respect the other parent’s rights and try to iron out disputes before they become major problems. So, if a parent hires an overly-aggressive “bulldog” lawyer who refuses to compromise on any point, that strategy may backfire. The judge may assume that if a parent is obstinate while the case is going on, that obstinance will get even worse when court supervision ends.
Child’s Current Living Environment
There is an old saying that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.” In this context, that apophism is usually accurate. If the current parenting time division is working, even if there are some problems, most Port St. Lucie County judges want to leave it in place. Divorce is such a disruptive time for everyone that most judges do not want to make the situation even more unstable. Related factors in this area include school and medical records of the children.
Parental Abilities and Attitudes
In general, good parenting requires both physical skills and the right attitude. Some people have one but not the other. For example, a parent might struggle with a substance addiction or have another physical or emotional limitation. Other parents happily accept the role of weekend parent. Typically, these individuals showed little interest in the children’s welfare or activities when the parties were married.
Any History of Violence
This factor is different from the other four because, in general, courts have a zero-tolerance policy toward family violence. There is no balancing test or other such consideration. The violence could be physical, emotional, or verbal. Furthermore, the violence could have occurred within the past few months or even a number of years ago in a different family setting. Supervised and limited visitation are common in these situations. If there is evidence that a parent tried to conceal such evidence, the judge may come down even harder.
Connect with an Assertive Lawyer
Parenting time divisions must be consistent with certain factors. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie divorce attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.