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How Florida determines the “best interests of the child”

If you are a parent and have ever gone through, or are currently going through, a divorce, custody battle or similar legal matter, you may have heard the term “best interests of the child” thrown around quite a bit. When Florida courts make decisions regarding custody, visitation, parental rights and so on, they typically weigh what they consider to be the “best interests of the child” before making their final determinations.

As a Florida parent, you may be wondering exactly what goes into deciding what constitutes the “best interests of the child.” While there is no single, all-encompassing answer to this question, there are certain areas you can expect the legal system to consider when making their determinations. More specifically, you can anticipate that the court system will consider the following:

The existing emotional family ties

When making decisions about what might be in your child’s best interests, you can expect Florida courts to consider the status of existing familial relationships. In addition to the emotional connection between the child and his or her parents, courts may review relationships between the child and other family members when making such decisions. If there are, say, strong bonds between your child and his or her siblings, the court system may consider such bonds before making any custody decisions that could potentially disrupt them.

Whether a parent can provide for a child

While courts will typically consider a parent’s ability to provide financially for his or her children when making family law-related decisions, the court system will also typically consider the parent’s ability to care for a child in a physical sense. Is this parent around enough to encourage positive developmental and emotional growth? Does the parent have health insurance the child can access? These are the types of questions you can expect a court to ponder when making determinations about custody and related matters.

While these are some of the key considerations courts often make before determining what it is the "best interests of the child,” please note that there are many other elements that may come into play before a judge issues his or her final decision.

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