When discussing child custody, some divorcing parents let their own wants and emotions get in the way. Ideally, it is best if the parents can come to an arrangement on their own, but if they are not focusing on the child’s needs, this may not work.
If the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the courts get involved. Whether the court makes the determination, or the parents do, the ultimate order should be what is best for the child.
Child custody basics
FindLaw discusses that, when it comes to custody, there is legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent makes the major decisions regarding the child, and physical refers to who physically cares for the child. It is common for both parents to share both types of custody.
Best interest factors
Whether the parents come up with an arrangement or the courts do, the Florida Senate discusses the factors that they should take into consideration:
- Ability of each parent to provide a loving and stable home
- Moral fitness as well as physical and mental health of each parent
- Ability of each parent to encourage the child to have a healthy relationship with other parent
- Stability of current living situation
- Age and needs of the child
The courts also consider what the child wants, once the child is old enough and mature enough to understand.
Parenting plan inclusions
If the parents come up with a parenting plan on their own, the court must approve it. This parenting plan must, at minimum, include a time-sharing schedule, details about how the parents will share responsibilities, details about communications with the child and who will be responsible for healthcare decisions and school-related matters.