Top Three Best Interest Factors in a Port St. Lucie Child Custody Dispute
Two broad presumptions dominate Florida parenting time laws. First, all these decisions must put the children’s interests first. Second, most children benefit from meaningful and consistent contact with both their biological parents.
But these abstract presumptions are difficult to apply. Furthermore, they are subject to different interpretations.
To assist in an initial determination or a modification action, Florida law sets forth a number of factors which a judge can consider in these cases. Port St. Lucie divorce attorneys must be mindful of these factors when preparing legal arguments or when participating in pretrial settlement negotiations.
Ability to Co-Parent
One of the most important child custody factors is also one of the hardest ones to understand and apply.
Many parents have strong “mama bear” reactions when their children are threatened. In most cases, that’s a laudable reaction. But in a family law dispute, not everyone agrees on what constitute “threatening” conduct. So, if a parent hires an overly aggressive bulldog lawyer, that move could backfire.
Many judges assume, rightly in most cases, that parents who are obstructionist during the divorce process will be even more obstructionist once court supervision ends. Parents who are unable to be civil towards their former spouses usually make poor co-parents. So, a bulldog lawyer could hurt your chances in a custody case instead of helping them.
This inquiry often involves behavior which occurred years before the divorce as well as current behavior.
Some parents see their roles as breadwinners. They show little interest in school plays and other child-related activities. It is difficult for these parents to win parenting time disputes. They must convince the judge that they have turned over a new leaf, and that’s often a tall order.
Current behavior is relevant as well. Many parents have physical, emotional, or other issues which prevent them from being effective parents. For example, if Dad has a drinking problem, Dad is unlikely to secure considerable parenting time, even if he has no alcohol-related criminal record.
In modification actions, the rules are a bit different. Generally, parental fitness evidence is only relevant if it took place after the most recent order was entered. Parents cannot summon ghosts from the past.
Consistency for the Children
Judges like consistency. Even if the current arrangement is not perfect, they prefer to stick with it. As the old saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.
So, aggressive representation at the temporary hearing is often critical. Judges usually hold these hearings a few weeks after a party files for divorce. If a parent loses this hearing, it’s almost impossible to reverse that outcome later in the case. Most judges simply do not want to uproot the children again, and that’s an understandable impulse.
In many cases, only compelling new evidence, like a social study with a different parenting time recommendation, can change the outcome between temporary hearing and final order.
Count on Experienced Lawyers
Various factors are important in Florida parenting time determinations. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters all along the Treasure Coast.