For any parent, a child's happiness and overall wellbeing are paramount. While all parents want what's ultimately best for a child, when it comes to divorce or separation, opinions related to those matters may differ greatly. In cases where parents are embroiled in disputes related to child custody and visitation, it's wise to consult with an attorney who can provide legal guidance and assistance.
Whether parents are going through a divorce or were never married, it's important to take steps to iron out issues related to both legal and physical custody and, if applicable, visitation. For parents who are dealing with these types of issues, strong feelings and emotions including anxiety, protectiveness and fear; are common.
In some cases, parents may be able to communicate effectively and come to an agreement about custody and parenting time. If this is the case, parents are still advised to establish a formal agreement which can be filed with the courts. Having an official child custody order helps provide for a child's care and security and also helps establish clear roles and boundaries for each parent.
In cases where parents are not able to agree on child custody matters outside of court, the family courts must become involved. In Florida, the family courts have a lot of discretion in these types of matters and ultimately make decisions based upon what is deemed to be in "the best interests of a child."
The courts take numerous factors into consideration including the age of a child, his or her preference towards a parent, current living arrangements, the physical and mental health of a child and both parents and any history of domestic violence. Additionally, when possible, the courts may favor some type of joint custody arrangement. It's crucial, however, that both parents demonstrate that they are able to work together and honor any type of joint legal or physical custody arrangement.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Primary Child Custody Factors in Florida," March 27, 2015