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Before a court can make any decision regarding child custody arrangements, the best interests of the child will need to be considered. Courts will refer to the factors listed under Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13(3), to establish a parenting plan or modify an existing parenting plan, to ensure the child’s wellbeing and safety.

Factors for best interests of the child

There are many things that can have an affect on a child’s growth and development. Some of the key factors courts will consider when determining the best interest of a child for child custody purposes include:

  • The parents – Courts will consider each parent’s capacity and willingness to maintain a relationship with the child and adhere to the parenting plan, ability to put the child’s needs first, and ability to provide a routine for the child and stay involved in the child’s school activities, as well as their mental and physical health and moral fitness.
  • The child – Courts will consider the reasonable preference of the child (if the child has the age and capacity to express a preference), the existing relationship between the child and each parent, and the developmental needs of the child.
  • Geography and environment – Courts will consider the child’s current living environment, school, and community and evaluate each parent’s ability to maintain a safe living environment for the child. The courts will also look at where each parent lives and come up with a plan that is geographically feasible.

The breaking up of a family can be traumatic, particularly for children. The court will focus on making the child’s life as easy as possible during this difficult time, while making sure they are well taken care of in the future.