What Evidence Can be Used to Determine the Best Interests of a Child?
When addressing parenting plans and time sharing schedules, courts are primarily guided by what would be in the child’s best interests. While this may seem like an ambiguous standard, Florida lawmakers have provided guidelines that courts must take into consideration when assessing what would be in a specific child’s best interests. These factors, however, must be supported with proper evidence, so if you and your child’s other parent have been unable to reach an agreement on time sharing and you have questions about how to prove to a court that a certain arrangement would be in your child’s best interests, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale child visitation and time-sharing attorney who can help you build your case.
The Best Interests of the Child Standard
The best interests of the child standard provides a way for courts to determine what would be the best environment to meet a child’s needs, health, and overall well-being. Under Florida law, this requires the consideration of a number of factors, including:
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate a close parent-child relationship;
- How parental responsibilities will be divided upon divorce;
- How long the child has lived in a stable environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- Each parent’s mental and physical health;
- The reasonable preference of the child;
- Each parent’s capacity to adhere to a consistent routine for the child;
- The parents’ capacity to communicate with the other;
- Any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect;
- The types of parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent;
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to participate in the child’s school and extracurricular activities; and
- Each child’s specific developmental needs.
To learn more about the kinds of things that courts assess when establishing a parenting plan, please reach out to our office today.
Demonstrating What Would be in a Child’s Best Interests
Applying these factors to a child’s specific situation will require a substantial amount of evidence, which could take a variety of different forms, including:
- The testimony of family, friends, and teachers;
- Documentation and official records; and
- Expert testimony.
The type of evidence used to support a person’s claim of what would be in a child’s best interests depends on the circumstances of the case. For instance, family members and friends could be asked to testify as to a person’s involvement in his or her child’s life. In other cases, the family doctor, in addition to describing a child’s particular developmental needs could testify as to who was present most often at appointments, while teachers can describe a child’s performance and the level of each parent’s involvement in the child’s life. Physical documentation can also be used as well. One parent’s criminal history, for example, could be used to provide proof of domestic violence or child abuse. Copies of phone calls, text messages, and social media posts, on the other hand, could be used to demonstrate one parent’s inability to foster a healthy relationship with the child or the child’s other parent.
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To discuss your child custody dispute with an experienced child visitation and time-sharing lawyer, please call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.