How Will a Judge Determine Child Custody in Florida?
When it comes to the Sunshine State, divorcing or separating parents must resolve their child custody disputes either on their own using a mediator or at a trial with a judge. In either situation, a judge will still evaluate any custody arrangement to ensure that the final decision is in the best interests of the children. This is why most parents choose to work with a custody lawyer in Hernando County, FL, to ensure there is no potential sticking points that can delay the custody proceedings.
The good news is that Florida custody laws recognize that children generally benefit from maintaining frequent contact with both of their parents. That means neither parent begins with an advantage in a custody case—with fathers and mothers each having equal rights to custody of their children.
Still, a child’s best interests are central to any custody decision. Judges expect parents to put the needs of their children before their own, and the court will consider the extent to which each of the parents has demonstrated the ability and desire to meet a child’s needs. Here are a few of the factors that a judge will consider during a child custody case:
- Each Parent’s Willingness to Foster a Relationship Between the Child & the Other Parent
- Each Parent’s Ability to Meet the Needs of the Child
- Each Parent’s Mental & Physical Health
- Each Parent’s Moral Fitness
- Each Parent’s Ability to Provide the Child with a Consistent Routine
- The Geographic Viability of the Parenting Plan
- The Child’s Adjustment to Home & Community
- The Reasonable Preference of the Child If of a Sufficient Age & Understanding
- Evidence of Domestic Violence—If Any
- Each Parent’s Ability to Provide a Safe & Stable Environment for the Child
- The Child’s Developmental Age, Needs, & Abilities
- Any Other Factors the Judge Deems Relevant