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Child Custody and How the Courts Interpret

Child Custody and How the Courts Interpret "The Best Interests of the Child"

Most parents believe they are acting in the best interests of their children, and in most cases, they probably are. The family courts in places like Duval, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau counties are often faced with the responsibility of determining what is in the best interests of a child when even the parents cannot agree on the matter.

Barring a situation where one of the parents has shown himself or herself to be negligent or dangerous, the family courts in Florida prefer a parenting plan where both the mother and the father have shared visitation and shared parental responsibility. But this often creates a problem when determining where the child’s primary residence should be. The courts will use “the best interests of the child” as a litmus test in child custody matters.

Factors Affecting Court Ordered Parenting Plans in Florida

In determining what is in the best interests of the child with regard to assigning a primary residence, the Florida courts will consider the following factors:

  • The accessibility of the home for the purposes of time-sharing. In other words, the parent who more likely to allow the other parent access to the child.
  • The emotional bond that the child has to each parent
  • The level of care that each parent is able to give the child with regard to clothing, food, shelter, et cetera
  • Whether or not the child has already lived in one home versus the other
  • How the family unit exists in each home with regard to siblings and other family members
  • The mental and physical well-being of each parent
  • The preference of the child if he or she is old enough to provide input
  • Any history of domestic violence in either residence and what the parent’s role was in these incidents
  • Any history of abuse or neglect with regard to the child in question or any other children
  • Any other factor that would affect the suitability of a home for a child

It’s important to note that each of these factors could affect the suitability of the other parent’s home for the purposes of visitation. The family law and divorce lawyers of Owenby Law, P.A. know how important it is for you to be able to provide for the safety and comfort of your children.

Our attorneys not only fight for the rights of our parent clients, but protect their children as well. If you are attempting to establish your home as the primary residence for your child or children, schedule an appointment at our Jacksonville or Orange Park law office by calling (904) 770-3141.


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