Seven Child Custody Factors in Florida
Mutual agreements resolve almost all the child custody disputes in Orange County. Agreed settlements give the parties more control over the outcome. They also avoid litigation, which is costly both financially and emotionally.
However, the parenting time division must take all the factors in Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes into account. Otherwise, a Seminole County judge may not approve the settlement. If that happens, the parents must go back to the drawing board or proceed to an expensive and uncertain trial. Additionally, the settlement may not hold up over time. If it does not reflect the children’s best interests, one party will certainly try to modify it very quickly.
Below are some of the most important child custody factors for Maitland family law attorneys. These factors are relevant in both original and modification proceedings.
Responsiveness to Developmental Needs
This factor is a very long-winded way of saying that different children have different needs at different ages, and different parents have different ways of responding to these needs. As a general rule, many children feel closer to their mothers when they are younger and need nurturing. Later, they feel closer to their fathers when they are older and need direction.
No Substance Abuse
Note that the standard is not complete abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, or even illegal drugs. But if substance use interferes with daily living activities, or there is a risk that the children may drink alcohol or use drugs, there is a serious problem.
Parent’s Ability to Behave Civilly
The new Florida family laws encourage co-parenting. Both parents must work together to properly raise their children. Mom and Dad do not have to be friends, but they do have to set aside their differences for the good of the children. Yet some parents disparage the other parent, talk about the litigation in front of their kids, and even allow children to read court documents. Parents who behave this way often lose custody disputes.
Involvement in School and Extracurricular Activities
This factor is a bit like the substance abuse factor discussed above. Parents do not need to volunteer for every school job that comes along and chaperone every field trip. But they must encourage school and extracurricular activity and not hinder it in any way.
Current Parenting Plan Division
By the time settlement negotiations begin, the judge has probably already issued temporary orders. These orders specify a parenting time division. If the current arrangement is working, even if it is not perfect, most judges are inclined to leave well enough alone. Third-party delegation is the wild card here. If one parent often leaves the children with a sitter or other third party for extended periods of time, that’s not a good thing.
Domestic Abuse and Similar Allegations
Such matters are different from illegal substance use. There is basically a zero-tolerance policy towards things like “domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.” Such allegations could be rather recent or extremely old. The only way to overcome this hurdle is to convince the judge that the allegations were false.
Whether they admit it or not, children like routine. They like knowing what will happen and when it will happen. Some parents provide routine very well, and others are spontaneous. One is not necessarily worse than the other. They are just different. Similarly, children like reasonable discipline, whether they admit it or not. Some parents are good with consistent discipline, like “brush your teeth” and “do your homework.” Other parents long to be the fun mom or the fun dad. Once again, these things are simply different.
Contact a Dedicated Lawyer
Parenting time divisions must uphold the best interests of the children. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Maitland family law attorney, contact The Troum Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Orange County and nearby jurisdictions.