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How do Florida courts determine the best interests of the child?

When deciding on a child custody case, Florida courts do their best to decide the case in the best interest of the child or children. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, every state has a statute that requires the best interests of children to be considered. Though each state or court may differ slightly in determining such things, there are general guidelines and definitions that are followed.

Generally, best interest decisions are made by considering a number of factors, including parental circumstances and the child's safety and well-being. Frequent principles guiding state statues and court decisions include the importance of continued family integration. Courts generally want to avoid removing children from homes when possible.

States also consider health and safety issues and the permanence of any decision when considering child custody cases. Because of this, a decision is rarely irrevocable, which means a parent may return to court if situations change -- especially if children may be in danger.

Courts usually require some type of assurance that a child who is removed from a current home is going to be provided with adequate care, guidance and treatment. Other factors included in the decision are emotional ties between children and certain family members, the mental state of the child, the mental and physical state of the parents and any domestic violence that might exist in the home.

Although courts do their best to make decisions that are in the best interest of children, authorities cannot understand or know every circumstance regarding a child's life. This makes it important for individuals to present a valid, logical and comprehensive case when arguing child custody matters in court.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child" Sep. 03, 2014

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