Custody of the child is generally one of the most litigated issues during Tampa Family Law cases. This is one of the most common questions posed to Tampa child custody attorneys. As you are aware if you are reading our Tampa child custody attorney blog, divorces and child custody matters are hotly contested, very personal matters. They take longer than everyone believes they should and cost more than everyone believes they should.
The plain and simple of it is that the court will consider the time sharing and custody arrangement based solely on what is in the best interest of the child, when determining who gets custody of the child. Florida Statute 61.13 provides the following factors for the court to consider:
(a) The 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.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) 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.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) 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.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The 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.
(k) The 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.
(l) The 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.
(m) 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. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) 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.
(o) The 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.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the 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.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
As you can see, this encompasses a tremendous amount of things, including the final subsection (t) which basically makes anything the court believes to be relevant to be relevant and admissible. This is somewhat unique in that this is one of the only Florida courts where what is relevant and admissible is essentially a moving target. Ultimately, the unique facts of each case and the assigned judge determine which factors will be most persuasive and powerful before the court and who will get custody of the child.
If you or someone you know have questions about how a court will determine who gets custody of the child or children in the case, contact the Tampa child custody attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We have handled many different types of Florida child custody cases, involving a variety of matters from domestic violence to substance abuse to just plain old bad parents and all types of cases in between. We have utilized private investigators to identify the criminal pasts, drug use and other similar character evidence of the other party for use in final hearing. If you would like to contact one of our Tampa child custody attorneys for an immediate free consultation, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website. We appreciate you taking the time to check out our Tampa child custody attorney website and look forward to hearing from you.