How a court decides a child's best interests

If parents in Florida are not able to reach an agreement about child custody, they will have to go to court where a judge will decide. A judge makes a decision based on the best interests of the child, but parents may wonder what exactly is meant by this phrase.

The decision is made based on a number of factors and goes beyond a simple demonstration that someone is a fit parent. However, one thing a judge will consider is whether a parent is able to provide the physical and emotional support a child needs. This means taking the parent's health into account as well as considering whether the parent can provide adequate shelter, access to education and more. A judge will consider the child's safety as well as what arrangement will cause the least amount of disruption to the child's life. The child's age and relationship with both parents is also a factor.

A parent can take steps to show they have the child's best interests in mind. This includes showing involvement in the child's extracurricular activities, school enrollment and other important elements of raising the child. In general, a judge will want both parents to have access to the child. In limited circumstances, a judge may approve relocating if there are better opportunities for education or support or other benefits.

Parents may struggle to negotiate child custody even if they are able to agree on other aspects of the divorce. However, they may be happier with an arrangement they negotiate than one that a judge creates in court. A parent who is genuinely concerned about a child's safety with the other parent might have to go to court. The parent may still need to provide evidence that the child is in danger of abuse or neglect, such as police reports.

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