According to Florida statutory and case law, the court is guided by the best interests of a child and it may evaluate a variety of factors when creating a parenting plan, including, but not limited to the following:
(a) 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.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) 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.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) 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 parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) 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.
(k) 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.
(l) 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.
(m) 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.
(n) 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.
(o) 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.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) 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.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
And, according to Florida Case Law:
While a trial court cannot determine that it is in the best interest of a child to change custody based only on the child’s desire to live with a particular parent, this is one factor the court can consider. See 61.13(3)(i), Fla. Stat. (1997); Blosser v. Blosser, 707 So.2d 778 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998) (child’s preference alone may not support modification). Neither can a trial court base its decision on an agreement between the parents that temporarily changes residential custody, because it would not promote cooperation between parents. See Henderson v. Henderson, 537 So.2d 125, 126 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988) (citations omitted). However, the court can consider these factors along with the other factors listed in section 61.13(3), Florida Statutes (1997). The trial court can consider, and did in this case, “the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity,” see § 61.13(3)(d); and, “the home, school, and community record of the child.” See § 61.13(3)(h). After considering all of these factors, the trial court determined *1187 that it was in the best interest of this seventeen-year-old child to remain with the Father. Accordingly, we cannot conclude that the trial court abused its discretion by changing residential custody from the Mother to the Father.
Quick Tip: A recent change in the law added a rebuttable presumption that equal timesharing is in the best interest of the child. The new law also allows the court to consider a modification to the time-sharing schedule when a parent relocates within 50 miles of the child. Therefore, the existing statutory language is likely to change from what is shown above. This is why we say these articles are for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Florida law is always changing and the facts of each case are unique, which can impact the outcome of a case. Therefore, we strongly recommend talking with an experienced Florida lawyer to learn your rights.
- Child Custody in Florida
- Advocating for Your Child’s Best Interest
- How to File for Child Relocation in Florida and Win Your Case
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send us an email or call him now at (954) 880-1302.
If you found this information helpful, please share this article and bookmark it for your future reference.