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Florida Child Custody: Protecting a Child’s Best Interests and Your Own

One of the most difficult aspects of divorces can be decisions regarding custody of children. There are many ways to avoid potential factors keeping you from losing custody of your child. To learn more about child custody and divorce, contact an experienced Flordia family law lawyer from Lewert Law Offices at (888) 671-3855.

The divorce process requires spouses to make a series of challenging decisions, from division of debt and complex assets to considering where to live after a marriage has ended. But for a divorcing couple with children, no decision is more likely to foster controversy and heartache than finalizing the details of a child custody agreement.

Custody determinations are the one area of divorce that can cause a great deal of collateral damage to innocent bystanders. A primary residence and other inanimate assets obviously won’t suffer from being kept off limits to one spouse or another, but the implications of a lengthy custody battle can devastate children of any age. For that reason, parents need to take some common sense steps to protect their kids from excessive psychological harm during a time when their world is changing significantly.

A divorcing spouse can take several important steps to ensure that the legal process does not neglect his or her child’s well-being:
  • Take the time to talk at length and honestly with your spouse to identify the best interests of the children
  • Be aware that children’s needs change over time, and know that a timesharing arrangement for a teenager will likely be quite different that of a kindergartner
  • Consider using mediation to resolve disputes to the fullest extent possible — this is both economical and will likely cause fewer hard feelings in the long run
  • Set aside time to write down your goals and articulate your strengths as a parent, and be prepared to substantiate those views with witness testimony if your divorce ends up in court
  • Ensure that you enlist the services of an attorney who is familiar with the laws of your state as well as local court procedures and tendencies
Family Law Attorneys Help Clients Understand the Legal Factors

There are many personal and emotional aspects to divorce, but at the end of the day the court will only sign an order establishing a Parenting Plan that has a solid basis in Florida law. To that end, several important factors must be considered in a child custody determination, including the twenty factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.13:
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parentwith a child.
  • The moral fitness of the parents.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
A divorce lawyer’s first obligation to a client is to provide an honest assessment of the client’s case and establish clear goals in light of the process and law governing parenting and timesharing. By advising clients about their options from the outsetArticle Submission, legal advocates prepare to defend their clients’ interests while helping them achieve an independent future.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


At the Lewert Law Offices, our Florida certified family law lawyer understands the difficulties clients must face when making family law decisions that can alter their life and children's. We are committed to giving you the support and direction you need to make the most informed legal decisions. Our founder, Tina L. Lewert, practices in the areas of divorce, child custody, alimony, domestic violence, as well as many other family law matters. Contact the Lewert Law Offices today to schedule a consultation at (888) 671-3855.



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