Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and complex legal proceedings. On July 1st, 2023 Florida entered into force a new family law that created a presumption of 50/50 timesharing. When one parent seeks to deviate from a 50/50 timesharing arrangement, it becomes essential to consider various factors to ensure the best interests of the child are met. In today’s blog we will be exploring the factors that courts will have to take into consideration to deviate from the 50/50 presumption.
1- Demonstrated Capacity and Disposition to Facilitate and Encourage a Continuing Parent-Child Relationship: When evaluating custody arrangements, courts examine each parent's willingness and ability to foster an ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent. Attorneys can present evidence demonstrating their client's commitment to upholding the agreed-upon timesharing schedule and their track record of accommodating necessary changes. Additionally, an attorney can emphasize their client's efforts in promoting positive communication and cooperation between the parents.
2- Anticipated Division of Parental Responsibilities After Litigation: The court assesses the division of parental responsibilities post-litigation. Attorneys can strategically outline their client's proposed division, showcasing their client's readiness to actively participate in the child's upbringing. This will include presenting evidence about the delegation of such tasks to third parties.
3- Demonstrated Capacity and Disposition to Determine, Consider, and Act upon the Needs of the Child: The court examines each parent's ability to prioritize the child's needs effectively. Attorneys can present evidence illustrating their client's awareness and understanding of the child's physical, emotional, and developmental requirements. This may include demonstrating their client's involvement in decision-making regarding education, healthcare, and overall well-being.
4- Length of Time the Child Has Lived in a Stable Environment: The duration and stability of the child's current living environment are crucial factors in custody determinations. Attorneys can present evidence showcasing the child's long-standing stability and continuity in their current arrangement. This may involve demonstrating that a significant change in time sharing would disrupt the child's established routines and relationships.
5- Geographic Viability of the Parenting Plan: The court considers the practicality and feasibility of the proposed parenting plan, especially concerning school-age children, and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. Attorneys can present evidence outlining the impact of potential travel requirements on the child's well-being and educational stability. This may involve highlighting the challenges associated with lengthy travel distances and the potential disruption to the child's academic progress and social connections.
6- Mental Health, Physical Health, and Moral Fitness of the Parents: The mental and physical well-being of the parents is crucial in determining their ability to care for the child effectively. Attorneys can present evidence, such as medical records or expert opinions, to establish their client's mental and physical health. Similarly, they can demonstrate their client's moral fitness by highlighting their positive character references and involvement in the child's moral and ethical development.
7- Home, School, and Community Record of the Child: The child's history, including their home environment, school performance, and community involvement, is evaluated by the court. Attorneys can present evidence showcasing the child's positive record in these areas, emphasizing the stability and support provided by their client. This may include academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, and positive relationships with peers and community members.
8- Reasonable Preference of the Child: The court may consider the reasonable preferences of older and mature children. Attorneys can present evidence demonstrating their client's efforts to understand and consider the child's desires while also highlighting their client's commitment to the child's best interests.
9- Demonstrated Capacity and Disposition to Provide a Consistent Routine and Communicate with the Other Parent: Attorneys can present evidence illustrating their client's ability to provide a consistent routine for the child, emphasizing the importance of stability and predictability. They can also showcase their client's willingness to maintain open lines of communication with the other parent, promoting cooperation and unified decision-making regarding major issues concerning the child.
10- Evidence of Domestic Violence, Abuse, Abandonment, or Neglect: Allegations or evidence of domestic violence, abuse, abandonment, or neglect significantly impact custody decisions. Attorneys can present compelling evidence, such as police reports, medical records, or testimonies, to substantiate any claims of such behavior. It is crucial for attorneys to highlight the potential harm to the child's well-being and safety if exposed to such circumstances.
11- Demonstrated Capacity and Disposition to Participate in the Child's School and Extracurricular Activities: Attorneys can present evidence demonstrating their client's involvement in the child's educational and extracurricular pursuits. This can include records of attendance at parent-teacher conferences, participation in school events, and support for the child's hobbies and interests. Such evidence underscores their client's commitment to the child's holistic development.
12- Demonstrated Capacity and Disposition to Maintain a Substance-Free Environment: Attorneys can provide evidence illustrating their client's commitment to maintaining a substance-free environment for the child. This may involve presenting substance abuse evaluations, drug test results, or character witnesses attesting to their client's responsible behavior. Emphasizing the potential risks associated with substance abuse can strengthen the argument for the client's suitability as a custodial parent.
13- Capacity and Disposition to Protect the Child from Ongoing Litigation: Attorneys can highlight their client's ability to shield the child from the negative effects of custody litigation. This may include demonstrating their client's commitment to keeping the child insulated from conflicts, maintaining a positive and supportive environment, and refraining from making derogatory remarks about the other parent.
14- Developmental Stages and Needs of the Child: Attorneys can present evidence detailing their client's understanding of the child's developmental stages and needs. This may involve expert opinions, child development assessments, or testimonials from teachers or other professionals. Demonstrating their client's capacity and willingness to meet the child's specific requirements can be compelling in arguing for a favorable custody arrangement.
Child custody cases involve a comprehensive evaluation of various factors to ensure the best interests of the child are served. Attorneys play a crucial role in effectively utilizing these factors in court. By presenting compelling evidence and arguments, attorneys can advocate for their client's position, emphasizing their capacity and disposition to provide a nurturing and supportive environment for the child. Ultimately, the court's primary goal is to establish a custody and parenting arrangement that promotes the child's well-being and facilitates their healthy development.
If you need help with your family case, do not hesitate to contact our office. At Y. Morejon Attorney, P.A. we understand how difficult times can be and we offer a free evaluation of your case. At Y. Morejon Attorney, P.A. your problem is our problem.
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