Florida Child Custody Trials
If the parents have been unable to settle their child custody case prior to the custody evaluation, receipt of the report by the parties and their Florida child custody lawyers is another opportunity to evaluate settlement options. If one or both parents insist on a trial despite the recommendations of the court-appointed psychologist, a child custody trial will be scheduled by the Florida family court.
The family court judge will hear testimony presented by the Miami child custody attorneys from the parents, possibly the children, the court-appointed psychologist and any other significant sources of information regarding the minor children. The judge will also consider any relevant evidence in the form of school records, medical records, or other documents that the Miami child custody lawyer may present for consideration. In coming to a decision in a contested child custody case, the Dade County, Broward County or Monroe County family court judge will apply the “best interests of the children” standard and will consider the following statutory factors:
- 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.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- 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.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- 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.
- Moral fitness of the parents.
- Mental and physical health of the parents.
- Home, school, and community record of the child.
- Reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express preference.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- Demonstrated capacity of disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from 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.
- Developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
After consideration of all the evidence impacting the children's best interests, the family court judge will enter an order for a parenting plan that outlines each parent's schedule with the children and will also enter an order regarding parental responsibility duties that include decision-making for the children.
Vari & Associates, LLC.
The foregoing guide is intended to inform and not advise readers regarding various aspects of Florida family law. The guide was authored by Attorney Lisa Marie Vari of the Miami, Fl family law firm of Vari & Associates, LLC.