Divorce can be a lengthy process with many things to consider, such as marital property division and alimony award. For separating couples with children, one of the issues they have to resolve is custody arrangements. In Florida, they refer to this as parenting plans and time-sharing.
But how do family courts come up with a decision?
The main priority
When courts decide on anything related to a child, they always take the child’s best interest as the top priority. While there is no definition set in stone, a child’s best interest in custody cases refers to who is best fit to care for the child and what arrangement will benefit them the most. To find out the answer to these questions, the courts consider various factors.
Factors to consider
When deciding what arrangement is the best for the child’s well-being, the courts consider the following factors:
- The child’s age
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- Each parent’s ability to support the child physically, mentally and emotionally
- Each parent’s work schedule
- The distance between the parents’ homes
- The possible results of different types of arrangement to a child’s life, taking into primary consideration the least disruptive one
- Any history of domestic violence, neglect, substance abuse and other concerning acts
In some cases, the court also considers the child’s preference, if there is any. Each case is different and unique circumstances surround each child’s life. So, factors might come into play in one case while completely inapplicable in another.
Parenting plans and time-sharing are meant to benefit the child and the parents. The courts do not give preference to one parent. They always consider the child’s best interest while aiming to protect the parent-child relationship.