Whether they arise as part of divorce proceedings or as a stand-alone matter, child custody cases are among the most important issues handled by family courts. That’s because arrangements involving children can be highly emotional matters, and because courts are intent on protecting children and ensuring that any parents present in their lives are capable of meeting their physical and emotional needs. In fact, ensuring that any outcome issued in a child custody case is in the “best interests” of the children involved is always the gold standard when it comes to family law.
At Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC, our Boca Raton family law attorneys have decades of collective experience protecting the rights of individuals and families in matters involving child custody, whether those matters are part of a divorce, a paternity action, or any other family law case. If you are looking to gain custody of your children, assert your rights as a parent, and enjoy a fruitful relationship with your family, our legal team has the resources and insight to help you navigate the legal process ahead.
While every case is different, Florida courts always prioritize the best interests of the children involved. This means that in any matter involving custody – whether parenting plans and support or timesharing arrangements are agreed upon mutually by parents out of court, or disputed in litigation – courts focus on the same general factors involving the well-being of children and the parents’ abilities to ensure their well-being is protected.
For example, Florida courts commonly consider the following factors in custody cases:
- Stability of environment / living situation – Courts want to ensure that children live with parents who can provide a safe and stable living environment. As such, there are many factors that can influence determinations over custody and visitation, including constant moves, living arrangements in dangerous areas or with dangerous roommates or neighbors, substance abuse, criminal activity, and more.
- Adjustment – Courts are careful to consider how any significant changes in living situations, including those resulting after a divorce, will impact children, and they want to ensure any period of adjustment does not significantly harm a child. This can be a major factor in cases involving relocation, especially when one parent wishes to move their child to a new state or new country away from family support systems, the other parent, schools, friends, and living situations they have become accustomed to over the years.
- Parent’s health and physical ability – The health and physical abilities of parents are a factor considered by the court, as children need to be cared for by parents who are physically able to do so. Unfortunately, certain illnesses or disabilities may mean that parents simply can’t provide the level of care children need, unless they can demonstrate a strong support system that aids them in caring for a child.
- Parent’s financial abilities – Parents have financial obligations to care for their children, and must demonstrate the ability to financially meet the basic needs of a child. Job loss, unemployment, and other financial setbacks can be weighed into determinations over where a child will primarily live.
- Domestic abuse and other dangers – Allegations of child abuse or domestic violence are never in the best interests of a child, which is why they can substantially impact child custody proceedings. Parents accused of such conduct will need to prove allegations as false if they hope to obtain custody rights, and parents who want to protect their children should work with experienced lawyers to seek not only temporary protective orders, but also the representation to ensure custody arrangements reflect any dangers posed by another parent.
- A child’s preference – If children are old enough, or mature enough, courts may consider their opinions and preferences when making final determinations about where a child will primarily reside, and which parents should have legal rights to making important decisions about their welfare. Courts are careful to consider parental alienation or influence in these matters.
If you have questions regarding child custody, either as a stand alone issue or as part of a possible divorce case, our legal team at Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC is standing by to help! Call (561) 336-6082 or contact us online to speak with an attorney from our firm.