When parents divorce or split up, deciding how to care for their child is a top priority. There are many factors that determine child custody, known as parental responsibility in Florida.
According to FindLaw, the parents can come up with a parental responsibility agreement on their own. However, if they are unable to agree, the courts will decide.
Decisions the parents must make
When it comes to custody, there is physical and legal custody, as well as sole and joint. Physical is who the child lives with, and legal refers to who makes major decisions about the child. The courts generally consider joint custody in both aspects, although this does not mean the child necessarily lives with each parent 50% of the time.
The parents must think about who spends more time physically caring for the child, who provides a stable, nurturing and loving relationship with the child and which parent will foster a good relationship between the child and the other parent.
Agreeing on parental responsibility is a challenge for many divorcing couples. However, the court does not always have to be part of the decision-making process. Mediation is a common way that many parents come up with a fair and agreeable arrangement without a lot of money or stress.
Factors involved with the child’s best interest
Whether the parents or a judge decides, the child’s best interest should always be the focus. The Child Welfare Information Gateway discusses many of the factors involved:
- Emotional ties the child has with each parent, any siblings and other family members or caretakers
- The ability of each parent to provide clothing, food, a safe home and medical care
- Physical and mental health of each party
The state of Florida also takes the child’s wishes into consideration if the child is old enough.