Understanding the Best Interests of a Child
In recent years, Florida lawmakers began directing courts to avoid using the term child custody, but to instead refer to time-sharing and parental responsibility. In making decisions about the division of parenting time and decision making responsibility, judges were further directed to only approve or create arrangements that would be in a child’s best interests. This determination involves the assessment of a number of different factors, so if you are currently involved in a time-sharing dispute and want to familiarize yourself with the way that Florida courts view a child’s best interests, you should contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale child visitation and time-sharing lawyer who can advise you.
Emotional and Physical Needs
One of the most important factors used in making time-sharing arrangements is the emotional, physical, and developmental needs of the specific child in question, as well as both parents’ ability to meet those needs. This will involve an assessment of each parent’s ability to provide shelter, food, clothing, medical care, education, and parental guidance, which in turn often requires a consideration of each parent’s mental and physical health. Finally, courts will look for evidence of each parent’s capacity to act upon the needs of their child (as opposed to their own desires) when assessing what type of arrangement would be in the child’s best interests.
Participation in the Child’s Life
In addition to the specific needs of the child, family law courts engaged in making time-sharing determinations will also look to each parent’s degree of participation in a child’s life, which includes:
- Each parent’s capacity to be informed of the child’s circumstances, including the identity of his or her friends, knowledge of medical providers, the child’s daily activities, hobbies, and extracurricular activities, and school record;
- Each parent’s willingness to provide a consistent routine for the child, including daily schedules for meals, homework, and bedtime;
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent, as well as the division of childcare-related decision making responsibilities prior to litigation; and
- The capacity of each parent to participate in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
To learn more about these factors and the types of evidence that you could use to establish your own role in your child’s life, please call our legal team today.
Although courts are primarily driven by an analysis of each parent’s relationships with his or her child when assessing a child’s best interests, they also look for evidence of the parents’ ability to work together. This includes looking for evidence of each parent’s willingness to communicate with the other, to keep each other informed of issues and activities, and to adopt a unified front on major issues. Judges will also assess evidence of the parents’ efforts to shield their child from ongoing litigation, which includes refraining from making disparaging comments about the other parent.
Contact a Child Visitation and Time-Sharing Lawyer
If you are seeking a time-sharing award, you need a skilled legal advocate on your side. Please call our office at 954-945-7591 to discuss the details of your case with experienced time-sharing lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A.