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How Florida determines “the best interests of the child”

As someone who is involved, or who may soon find yourself involved, in a Florida child custody case, you may begin hearing the term, “best interests of the child,” tossed around frequently, but you may not fully understand what it means or how it may impact your custody case. At the Law Office of Cheryl Bucker, P.A., we understand that the “best interests of the child” often play a significant role in child custody decisions. We have helped many people facing similar circumstances understand the concept and demonstrate how certain living situations would, in fact, be in their child’s best interests.

According to the Florida Legislature, the "best interests of the child” may come into play anytime you need a new custody arrangement, or anytime you or your child’s other parent wishes to modify an existing custody order. While the person wishing to modify a custody order will need to demonstrate that a change would be in his or her child’s best interests, he or she will also need to approve that a substantial change in circumstances took place since the custody order originally took effect.

If the Florida courts determine that the change in circumstances is enough to possibly warrant a child custody modification, the next step involves showing how the modification will prove advantageous to your child. Just what types of things does the court system consider when assessing a child’s best interests? Typically, the state will consider factors such as a parent’s mental and physical health, his or her moral aptitude, and whether the parent will be able to prioritize his or her child’s wishes and needs over his or her own.

The court will also generally consider, if age appropriate, your child’s own preferences with regard to custody as well as you or the other parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment for the child in question. While these are some of the main factors courts often consider when determining the “best interests of the child,” this is not an exhaustive list of all elements they may consider. You can find out more about child custody issues on our webpage.

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