One of the most challenging aspects of divorce is determining child custody arrangements. While many people are aware of the basic factors a Florida court considers in child custody cases, several lesser-known factors can also affect the outcome.
Parents navigating the divorce process need to understand and prepare for these considerations.
1. Mental health and substance abuse
Courts consider the mental health of both parents when deciding child custody. If either parent has a history of mental illness or substance abuse, it can affect custody decisions. The court may consider evidence of treatment, therapy or rehabilitation efforts in these cases.
2. Relocation plans
If one parent plans to move away after the divorce, it can complicate custody arrangements. Courts will consider the impact of the move on the child’s life, including their relationship with the other parent, school and community ties.
3. Child’s preference
Once a child reaches a certain age or maturity level, the court may take their preferences into account. This varies by location and is typically considered alongside other factors.
4. Parental alienation
3.4 of 1,000 Florida marriages end in divorce, often because of irreconcilable differences and incompatibility. This often leads to hostile relationships after the divorce. Courts pay attention to cases of parental alienation, where one parent tries to turn the child against the other. This behavior may result in the alienating parent receiving limited visitation rights.
5. Co-parenting skills
A parent’s ability to work cooperatively with the other parent can be a factor in custody decisions. Courts often favor parents who show an ability to communicate effectively and make joint decisions in the child’s best interests.
6. Stability and consistency
Maintaining a stable and consistent environment for the child is important. Frequent moves, job changes or lifestyle choices that disrupt the child’s routine can negatively affect custody decisions.
7. Extended family relationships
Courts may consider the child’s relationship with extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins when making custody decisions. These relationships can provide emotional support and stability for the child.
8. Educational support
Multiple studies show that divorce has a negative effect on a child’s educational achievement. The parent who can provide the child with better educational opportunities and support may have an advantage in custody disputes.