What are the Best Interests of the Child?
Any time a divorce involves minor children, questions about what is in the best interests of the child are always raised. This is particularly important when discussing potential custody and visitation schedules for the child between parents. But what does it mean for something to be in the best interests of a child and who decides what those best interests are? At the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg in Boca Raton, our office has helped many clients navigating a divorce with children understand what the “best interests” standard is and how it might affect their case. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation of your case, call or contact our offices today.
The Best Interests Standard
In a Florida divorce case, the best interests of the child are determined by the court using a set of factors dictated in state law. A judge will hear arguments from each parent as to why their suggestion for the child’s custody, visitation, and support is in the child’s best interest. After weighing all factors, the judge will then make the decision. Even if the parents come to an agreement outside of court regarding a child’s custody and visitation, it still must be reviewed under the best interests standard before being approved by the court.
Factors of a Best Interests Decision
Under Florida law, the determination of the best interests of the child is made by evaluating all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child in the context of that particular child and the circumstances of that child’s family. The factors to be weighed in any best interests decision include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The capacity and ability of each parent to consider and act on the needs of the child
- The length of time the child has lived in their current environment and the need for continuity
- Whether the parenting plan is viable geographically
- Whether the parents are morally fit
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The records of the child from home, school, and community
- The preference of the child if the court determines that the child is old enough to make an informed decision
- The ability and capacity of each parent to provide a stable routine for the child
- The ability and willingness of each parent to communicate with each other regarding the needs of the child
- The tasks performed by each parent and how the parents split responsibilities
- The ability and capacity of each parent to participate in the child’s school and extracurricular activities
- Each parent’s ability to maintain a home free of substance abuse
- The capacity of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of child custody and visitation
Call the Office Today
To learn more about how the best interests standard might affect your case, contact a Boca Raton family attorney at the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg to schedule a free consultation.