When parents in Florida separate, child custody is one of the more complex issues they must face. In some cases, both parents may want primary custody of the children. If they cannot agree on an arrangement, the matter could end up in court. In these situations, a family law judge has the responsibility to determine legal and physical custody arrangements. Here are some of the factors that courts in Florida may use to decide child custody.
Best interests of the children
Generally, courts make their decisions based on the best interests of the children. Some of the circumstances that play a role in determining a child’s best interests are age, emotional bonds between parent and child, the child’s ties to his or her school, the parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs and the mental and physical health of both the parent and child. The child’s age will usually play a main role in the importance of most of these factors.
The age of the children
If the child is very young, the parent who is the primary caregiver will typically be favored by the judge. However, if the child is older and in school, the court may favor the parent who can best facilitate the child’s continuity in education, religious life and/or peer relationships. For older children, many states may also consider the child’s custody preferences.
Help with obtaining custody
Understanding the factors courts use to determine child custody can help parents prepare for the process and make informed decisions. Parents in Florida who have questions or want to learn more about child custody can get help by speaking with a lawyer. A seasoned family law attorney can assist a client with setting attainable goals and then advocate for the desired outcome.