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What do Florida courts consider during child custody disputes?

Children are always the most important aspect to consider during any divorce. Decisions regarding where the children will live and how they will be supported following the divorce is always fertile ground for dispute.

In a previous blog post, we discussed how a 2008 change in Florida's state statutes has realigned the focus of divorces involving children. Florida now places a greater emphasis on both parents being actively involved in the lives of their children. Currently, Florida courts use the terms parental responsibility and time-sharing rather than child custody and visitation when referring to the parental status of children.

This fundamental shift in language represents a focus on the best interests of the child. Today, Florida family courts will always defer towards the child's best interests when making decisions regarding time-sharing and parental responsibilities.

For example, courts may examine a parent's willingness to include the other parent into their child's life. Additionally, courts may also take into consideration each parent's ability to honor time-sharing schedules and general willingness to actively encourage the parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.

Courts are also going to look at which parent is going to establish a good home environment for the child. This may include examining a parent's mental, physical and even emotional health.

Florida residents who are considering a divorce involving children should know that family courts are going to place their emphasis on ensuring that your child's best needs are placed first. Your family law attorney can assist you with representing your case to the court for time-sharing and parental responsibility in a favorable light.

Source: Legislature of the State of Florida- Online Sunshine-2014 statutes, "61.13- Support of children; parenting and time-sharing; powers of court" Nov. 26, 2014

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