The intent behind Florida family law is to cause little disruption as possible on children trapped in the middle of a divorce. Disruption will necessarily happen, but the court endeavors to minimize the intrusion divorcing parents have on younger children. Consequently, devising a parenting plan for divorcing parents that are in the best interests of the children is essential in divorce proceedings.
Florida family court judges employ the legal test known as the “best interests of the child” when determining custody and visitation rights of the parents. It is important to remember that each parent has a due process right to raise their child as well as enjoying the care and comfort of their offspring. A parent’s due process rights are not absolute and are weighed against the best interests of the child when fashioning a parenting plan and custody scheme. The court does, however, operate from the premise that both parents are to engage in child rearing fully and share the duties of raising a child despite the dissolution of the marriage. Florida law specifically states that there is no presumption for the children to be with the mother.
The best interests of the child test is not an idle legal theory. Rather, Florida statutes delineate the factors a judge must consider when balancing the best interests of the child against parental rights. Knowing and understanding the various factors judges consider helps the astute divorce litigant aid their attorney to reach the best result while embroiled in a custody battle. As an aside, the parties should not wage a custody war solely to extract pain and retribution for a failed marriage. Placing your children in the middle of an argument they did not want to enter and force them to take sides against two people they love and admire is an untenable situation for a child. Bearing that in mind is more persuasive than stamping your foot and demanding things go your way to the detriment of your child’s best interests.
Florida judges consider many if not all of the following to ascertain the child’s best interests when considering custody, visitation, and a parenting plan. For a court to approve a parenting plan, the plan must contain the following:
- describe in detail how the parents will share the responsible for the task of raising a child;
- include time-sharing schedules so that each parent gets to spend time with their child;
- designate responsibility for health insurance, school-related matters; and
- specify the methods of communication between parents and children.
The judge determines whether the parenting plan satisfies the best interests of the child involved. Several factors a judge considers when examining the best interests of the child involve the parent’s fitness to raise a child. The court will consider how the parties treat each other, how they treat the children, and whether the parents can be reasonable when dealing with the children rather than being selfish in addition to protecting their children from the litigation. How a parent interacts with their child is important. Additionally, the court must consider the moral, physical, emotional fitness of each parent. A critical component of this inquiry is whether either parent is suffering from substance abuse. Judges also want both parents to impose discipline, have regular routines, and keep up with homework, meals, and bedtimes. Courts are concerned with identifying which parent is better able to care for the child based on the child’s developmental needs.
A both divorcing parents must put their children ahead of their own needs. Although the compulsion to try to hurt the other party may be high, bearing in mind that the children suffer and they did not choose this fight will help persuade the judge that your wants should be honored.
For Additional Information On How You Can Protect Your Parental Rights
Call Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary, call her Orlando, Florida office today at (888) 640-2999 to schedule a free consultation today to learn how Attorney Thompson-McClary can protect you from losing your children.