12 Dec What is the Best Interest of the Child in a Parenting Plan, under Florida Law?
Best Interest of the Child
In Florida, a Parenting Plan, either Supervised (“Safety Focused”) or Unsupervised, is required in all cases involving time-sharing (custody) of minor children. At a minimum, the Parenting Plan must describe (in detail) the responsibility for the daily tasks that are necessary to complete in the raising of the children. The time-sharing arrangements must be established. These will specify the dates/times that the minor children will spend with each parent. The responsibility for health care, school-related matters and all other activities must also be clarified. The means and methods that will be employed to foster communication between the child and parent must also be discussed.
It is important to remember that Florida family courts focus on the best interests of the children in its review of the Parenting Plan. The determination of the best interest of the child is made by evaluating a wide range of factors. These factors are considered in conjunction the individual circumstances of both the child and the family.
Some of the factors considered in making the determination of the child’s best interest, for the purposes of the Parenting Plan are:
(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
The Parenting Plan may not be modified without a showing of a material and unanticipated change in circumstances and the change must be made in the best interest of the child. Therefore, it is extremely important to hire the right Miami Divorce Attorney. We, at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Alan Aenlle, can help.
Give us a call at 786.309.8588 for a free consultation.